Common Mistakes To Avoid When Performing CPR

TL;DR: Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in the US, emphasizing the importance of CPR training. This article highlights common CPR mistakes and their consequences, including delays in calling an ambulance, not assessing scene safety, and not using AEDs. Additionally, it covers errors in CPR technique, such as inadequate chest compressions and incorrect hand placement. Proper CPR training can address these issues, ensuring effective response during emergencies. Consider signing up for CPR classes in Boston to learn and refresh life-saving skills.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is one of the most prevalent causes of death in the United States. According to the CDC, more than 356,000 Americans are victims of cardiac arrest every year. Statistics from 2021 show a staggering 12,613 cardiac-related emergency cases in Boston alone. So, it’s clear this can happen to anyone at any time, which is why the need for CPR training is increasing.

But CPR isn’t a one-and-done skill. Without putting in the time and effort to renew their CPR knowledge and technique, anyone can slip up and make a mistake during a medical emergency. Whether it’s due to panic, confusion, or simply forgetting a step, these errors can impact the effectiveness of the CPR efforts.

This article will cover the most common mistakes when performing CPR. We’ll shed light on these possible errors, not to point fingers but to help improve the quality of CPR provided. By addressing these missteps, we can all strive to become more proficient and prepared life-savers, ready to act confidently and correctly when seconds count.

Not Calling An Ambulance

One costly mistake many people make during a medical emergency is not calling an ambulance immediately. Most people assume that someone else will call 911 and don’t ensure that is the case. Sometimes, panic makes it hard to think clearly, leading you to focus solely on performing CPR and forget the need for professional help.

In other cases, especially during situations like overdoses, people are afraid they might get in trouble. Massachusetts has a clause in its Good Samaritan Laws that protects anyone also under the influence of opioids. As long as they put in the effort to call emergency services when they witness an overdose, they won’t have to worry about prosecution.

It’s common for people to underestimate the severity of the situation, thinking it’s not bad enough to need an ambulance. They also worry about the cost associated with calling emergency services. In a life-threatening situation, these concerns must always take a backseat to the need for immediate professional medical intervention.

Not Assessing the Scene for Safety

It’s easy to let adrenaline take over in an emergency, pushing you to act fast. However, you can’t help someone if you become a victim yourself. Before starting compressions or rescue breaths, quickly scan the environment. Check for any signs of immediate danger, such as:

    • Unstable structures

    • Toxic gas

    • Fire

    • Rising water

    • Flammable surface

    • Exposed electrical lines

    • Ongoing physical violence

    • Traffic

If the scene is dangerous, your priority is to move the victim to a safer location if that is possible and safe. If moving the victim isn’t an option, you may need to wait for professionals equipped to handle the hazardous conditions.

If the environment is safe, and you start administering CPR, continually reassess the scene’s safety. Circumstances can change quickly, and what was a secure environment can become hazardous. Your ability to keep a level head and prioritize safety protects you and ensures you can provide the victim with the best possible chance of survival.

Not Using An Automated External Defibrillator

When performing CPR, one big mistake is not using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) when available. An AED can check and shock the victim’s heart rhythm if necessary to help re-establish an effective rhythm. Using CPR alone is not enough in some cases.

Including AED as part of your response can increase the victim’s survival rates to around 50%-74%. However, people often fumble with the device because they’re unsure how to use it. A common error is placing the pads in the wrong spots on the victim’s chest.

One pad goes to the upper right side and the other below the left breast. See if the chest is dry and remove any metal objects. CPR training can teach you how to operate an AED and where to find one in public places.

Not Starting CPR As Soon As Possible

Often, people are unsure if they’re the right person to step in. Maybe they’re worried they’ll do it wrong or think someone else with more experience will come along. Fear of legal repercussions also holds many back. Research shows that waiting more than 3 to 6 minutes to start CPR can reduce the chances of survival down to 28.7%, so you should never hesitate to step up and help someone in medical need.

Not Pushing Deep Or Fast Enough

Another common mistake is not using enough force when performing chest compression. If you’re too gentle or slow, the heart won’t get enough pressure to circulate blood to the vital organs, including the brain. However, pushing too hard can be problematic or even cause injuries.

    • Adults can withstand compressions with a depth of about 2 inches (5 cm) but not more than 2.4 inches (6 cm).

    • For children, the recommended depth is 1.5 inches (4 cm).

    • For infants, compressions must be no deeper than 1.5 inches (about 4 cm).

The ideal rate is performing 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute, regardless of the patient’s age. If you have problems keeping the tempo, the songs on the official AHA playlist can keep you on the right track.

Not Placing Your Hands Correctly

It’s surprisingly easy to position your hands in the wrong spot on someone’s chest. Unfortunately, this error can significantly reduce the chance of a successful outcome. It’s best to aim for the center of the chest, right between the nipples.

Avoid placing your hands too high, near the neck, or too low towards the stomach, as this can cause harm and won’t help the heart pump blood effectively. Also, ensure you’re not using just the tips of your fingers or the heel of one hand. Interlock your fingers and push from your shoulders. While in this position, you can apply enough pressure during compressions without causing injury.

Not Checking For Signs Of Life

Before jumping into action, you must check if the person is responsive. Shout their name if you know it, or use phrases like “Are you okay?” to get a reaction. If they’re unresponsive, check their breathing:

    • Look for chest movements

    • Listen for breathing sounds

    • Feel for breath on your cheek

If the person is breathing normally, they don’t need CPR. Doing chest compressions on someone with a beating heart can harm them, possibly leading to broken ribs or worse. Always call for professional help first if you’re unsure.

The Benefits Of CPR Training

With proper training, you can avoid the common mistakes when performing CPR. When someone’s heart stops, every second counts, and fumbling around trying to remember what you saw on a TV show doesn’t cut it.

CPR training can prepare you, mentally and physically, to react calmly during medical emergencies. A comprehensive CPR training session will ensure you know how to take proper precautions and use the correct technique when someone’s life is in the balance.

Get CPR Training in Boston, MA

Common mistakes when performing CPR, like placing your hands incorrectly or not calling an ambulance right away, can significantly impact its effectiveness. Also, not ensuring the scene is safe for you and the victim can lead to more harm. For CPR efforts to have an impact, they must be done right.

If you still haven’t had any CPR training or need a refresher, don’t hesitate to sign up for CPR classes in Boston. You will learn proper CPR techniques and how to remain level-headed when it’s most necessary. With proper training and skill refreshment, performing CPR will become second nature, and you won’t have to worry about making mistakes.