The Top 4 Most Common CPR Mistakes

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can be lifesaving for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. CPR buys time before the arrival of a defibrillator and emergency medical services.

CPR works by keeping oxygenated blood flowing around the body. This keeps the brain, heart and other vital organs supplied with blood and can help prevent permanent brain damage.

Effective CPR is vital, however, it’s easy to make mistakes when performing CPR. Especially if you haven’t attended a training class recently.

Here’s our roundup of the four most common CPR mistakes we see people performing when learning or practicing CPR.

CPR Mistake 1: Shallow Chest Compressions

Chest compressions work by forcefully compressing the heart causing blood to be pushed around the body. In order for chest compressions to be effective, they need to be deep enough to push blood out of the heart.

The current guidance is for each chest compression to be between 5 – 6cm deep. This is much deeper than most people realize.

CPR Mistake 2: Inadequate recoil of the chest wall

One important aspect of chest compressions is ensuring the chest wall recoils fully after each compression. This recoil allows the heart to fill with blood which is required for the next compression to be effective.

CPR is tiring to perform, as the rescuer becomes tired it is common to see them ‘lean’ on the victim’s chest. This means they are not allowing the chest wall to recoil fully after each compression.

CPR Mistake 3: Long pauses in chest compressions

Chest compressions should be delivered with minimal pauses in order to maintain the pressure of blood that is being pumped around the body. A pause for longer than 10 seconds has been shown to reduce the chances of survival for the victim.

CPR Mistake 4: Over-inflating the victim’s lungs

If trained and confident, rescue breaths can be delivered alongside chest compressions. Our exhaled air contains around 16% Oxygen, this can provide enough oxygen for the victim before the arrival of advanced medical help.

However, each rescue breath should only last around 1 second. Over-inflating the victim’s lungs is a common mistake made by rescuers. Over-inflation is likely to lead to air entering the stomach, causing regurgitation and vomit to obstruct the victim’s airway.

Remember, you are providing rescue breaths…not blowing up a balloon!

Are you a CPR instructor? Do you think there are other common CPR mistakes? Let us know by leaving a comment below

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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