Common Mistakes When Performing CPR
High-quality CPR is vital to ensure a victim of cardiac arrest has the best possible chance of survival. CPR is a practical skill, and surprisingly easy to make mistakes when performing. You should avoid performing these common CPR mistakes:
Inadequate chest compression depth
Chest compressions need to be at least 5cm (2inches) deep in order to be effective. A common mistake made during CPR is performing shallow, ineffective chest compressions. Often people underestimate the force required in order to compress an adult victim’s chest. In addition, some people are worried about causing harm to the victim (for example, rib fractures).
Shallow chest compressions will not provide enough force to pump blood around the victim’s body. Therefore the brain will be starved of vital oxygen and a defibrillator is less likely to work when it is deployed.
It is common for ribs to be broken during CPR. One study found the prevalence of rib fractures in adult victims who received CPR was over 80. The rescuer may feel ribs break when they deliver chest compressions. This can be an unpleasant experience for the rescuer, but it is important to continue to deliver high-quality chest compressions.
Too slow or too fast chest compressions
Chest compressions should be given at a speed of around 100 – 120 a minute. Slow chest compressions are less likely to be effective, and fast chest compressions may not be deep enough in order to push blood around the body.
Leaning on the victim’s chest
Each chest compression should involve compressing the chest to a minimum of 5cm, followed by a full release of the chest wall. This is important to allow the heart to fill with blood. A common mistake new rescuers make is to ‘lean’ on the victim’s chest, especially when they become tired. This means there is not a complete release of the chest wall after each compression, reducing the effectiveness of the CPR.
Over-inflating the victim’s lungs
If trained and willing, rescue breaths can be performed in order to provide oxygen to a victim. However, it is important not to over-inflate the victim’s lungs. Over inflating the lungs will cause air to enter the stomach and increase the risk of the victim vomiting and blocking their airway. Therefore, each rescue breath should only last approximately one second.