Bystanders who attempted CPR on cardiac-arrest victims got it wrong more than half the time, reducing patients’ already slim chances of survival, a study found.
Improperly administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation “does not seem to be any better than no CPR,” said Dr. John Gallagher of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
The study was published in today’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Gallagher looked at 2,071 cases of cardiac arrest in New York City over six months and found that 662 of the patients had been given CPR by a bystander. He found that in 357 cases, the CPR hadn’t been done properly, and those patients’ rate of survival was one-third that of people given proper CPR.
The chances of surviving cardiac arrest are generally slim but vary greatly depending on factors such as available hospitals and the traffic encountered by ambulances.
CPR buys the patient time until paramedics can arrive with a defibrillator, which delivers an electrical shock to restart the heart.
In Gallagher’s study, 4.6 percent of those who were given properly administered CPR survived to be sent home from the hospital. Of those given improperly done CPR, only 1.4 percent survived.