What If Someone Dies You’re Performing CPR On?

CPR is regarded as a life-saving technique, but saving them may sometimes be impossible, depending on the victim’s state. Losing a person’s life despite administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emotionally challenging experience that can deeply affect those involved.

Considering the difficult reality of such circumstances, offering guidance on how to cope with the aftermath is vital. Providing empathy and support to rescuers, highlighting the importance of self-care, and seeking appropriate assistance during this trying period are always welcome.


Importance of CPR

CPR, a crucial emergency measure, can increase a person’s chance of life during a cardiac arrest. Time is of the essence, as the chances of life drop by 10% for every minute without CPR. However, despite its life-saving potential, it is important to acknowledge that there are instances where CPR efforts may not result in a successful outcome.

Research conducted by the Emergency Medicine Journal shows that cardiac arrest survival may not be so high, and the morbidity of CPR is underestimated. It is vital to prepare rescuers for this possibility. Losing a life despite administering CPR is a difficult reality, as various factors can influence the success of resuscitation attempts.


Acknowledging the Possibility of Death During CPR

Cardiac arrest outcomes are unpredictable, and factors like the cause of cardiac arrest, response time, and individual health conditions contribute to the variability in outcomes. Despite following proper resuscitation protocols, the ultimate result can be uncertain. We emphasize the importance of immediate action, ongoing training, and understanding the limitations of CPR, but what if someone dies you’re performing CPR on?

Factors Contributing to Failure of Resuscitation Efforts

Several factors can contribute to the failure of resuscitation efforts despite performing CPR. These factors include:

      • Delayed initiation of CPR: Prompt initiation of CPR is crucial for maximizing the chances of successful resuscitation.

      • Underlying medical conditions: Pre-existing health conditions, such as advanced heart disease, respiratory disorders, or severe trauma, can make resuscitation more challenging and decrease the chances of successful revival.

      • Inadequate CPR technique: Performing CPR with incorrect technique or inadequate depth and rate of chest compressions can decrease the effectiveness of resuscitation efforts.

      • Fatigue of the rescuer: Administering CPR is not easy, and rescuers will get tired, which may impact the quality of CPR provided.

      • Other complications: Complications during resuscitation, such as airway obstruction, excessive bleeding, or internal injuries, can also hinder the effectiveness of CPR and lead to resuscitation failure.

    Importance of Accepting Limitations

    While providing the best possible treatment, rescuers should be aware of the unpredictable nature of outcomes. Ongoing education and training are crucial for developing skills, managing emotional impact, and making wise judgments in emergency situations.

    In the event of an unsuccessful resuscitation during CPR, immediate action and appropriate next steps are vital. Rescuers need to be trained to recognize signs that CPR efforts are not achieving the desired outcome. If clear indications of unsuccessful resuscitation are present, rescuers may need to make the difficult decision to stop CPR. Continuing futile efforts can be emotionally distressing and hinder the exploration of alternative actions that could be more beneficial.

    It is crucial to promptly alert emergency services or activate the local emergency response system to inform them about the situation. This step ensures that professional assistance is on the way, as they can provide guidance, dispatch medical professionals to the scene, and offer further assistance or recommendations.


    Addressing the Emotional Impact

    The emotional impact on rescuers should not be underestimated, as they may experience a range of intense emotions and potential trauma. Several studies have shed light on the mental health implications for CPR providers in such situations.

    A recent study assessed the behavioral and psychological factors of laypeople concerning CPR. The results show that fear of doing harm, being overwhelmed by the situation, and being uncertain if CPR is appropriate are just some of the CPR initiation-associated factors.

    Whether you are a layperson or a medical professional, witnessing traumas can be distressing and leads to PTSD. During a study that was done on medical staff and the presence of PTSD symptoms, almost 10% of the responders tested positive for PTSD as a result of witnessing IHCA (in-hospital cardiac arrest).


    Emotional Support for Rescuers

    When a rescuer experiences the emotional impact of an unsuccessful resuscitation, it is crucial to provide them with adequate support.

    Acknowledging the Emotional Impact and Potential Distress

    Recognize that witnessing the loss of life despite CPR efforts can be emotionally challenging. Validate the rescuer’s feelings of grief, guilt, or trauma, and create a safe space for them to express their emotions.

    Coping Strategies for Dealing with Grief and Trauma

    Encourage the rescuer to engage in healthy coping strategies. This includes talking to trusted individuals, engaging in self-care activities, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Encourage them to express their emotions and process their grief in a way that feels comfortable to them.

    Seeking Professional Help and Support Networks

    If the emotional distress persists or becomes overwhelming, rescuers must seek professional help. This can involve speaking to a therapist, counselor, or mental health professional experienced in trauma and grief. Additionally, connecting with support networks, such as critical incident stress management (CISM) teams or peer support groups, can provide valuable assistance and understanding.


    Legal Liability

    Contrary to popular movies where CPR fixes everyone’s problems, real life paints a completely different picture. Yes, CPR can save lives, but that’s not always the case. CPR is primarily used to assist a person in need until the emergency medical personnel arrives and takes over. This doesn’t mean we should leave a person in need to die.

    Providing and not providing CPR during emergencies have legal and moral consequences. If you are afraid that someone might sue you if a person dies while you provide CPR, not providing CPR is unethical. Educate yourself on legal matters to ensure you are doing the right thing.

    Legal liability is an important consideration in cases of unsuccessful resuscitation. While the specific laws and regulations vary by jurisdiction, legal protections are in place to encourage individuals to assist during emergencies without fear of being sued. One such protection is the Good Samaritan Law.


    The Good Samaritan Laws

    The Good Samaritan Laws, enacted in many jurisdictions, provide legal immunity to individuals who render reasonable assistance in good faith at the scene of an emergency. These laws aim to encourage bystander intervention by shielding the rescuer from liability.

    These laws differ between states meaning that some states allow lay people to administer CPR only if they have CPR training. Other states allow everyone to help during an emergency, while others leave everything in the hands of medical professionals. It’s best to learn what laws apply to Lenham and avoid any uncomfortable situations.

    The main things to remember are the following:

        • Do not resuscitate a person with a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.

        • If possible, ask the victim for permission to help them.

        • Provide appropriate care to the victim.

        • You assisted with an emergency while waiting for the emergency response team.

      An emergency situation doesn’t leave much room for getting approvals and knowing the medical condition of the victim. Ask the other bystanders if they know the victim to help you make the right choices. This way, you’ll get information about any medical condition, about the person having a DNR, etc. Whatever the case, you are protected by the Good Samaritan Laws if you acted in goodwill and provided the best possible care.


      Final Words

      It is imperative to recognize and address the emotional toll on rescuers. What if someone dies you’re performing CPR on? Rescuers in Lanham should prioritize their own well-being by practicing self-care and seeking support to navigate the complex emotions that may arise from such experiences.

      It is crucial to recognize the challenging circumstances rescuers face, and the emotional burden they carry. Whether a layperson or a medical professional, they all need help processing their emotions and seek professional help if necessary. Providing resources for psychological support and debriefing sessions can contribute to their well-being.

      Ongoing education, self-care practices, and societal support play crucial roles in ensuring the well-being of rescuers and promoting a compassionate and understanding environment for them.