When you’re faced with an emergency where someone has lost consciousness or has stopped breathing, knowing how to perform CPR can be the difference between life and death. It’s a critical skill that will allow you to keep the blood in the victim’s body pumping and oxygenated, buying them time until professional help arrives.
But in your rush to assist, your eagerness can sometimes result in errors that make your life-saving CPR efforts less effective. In the heat of the moment, even the basics can slip your mind, and that’s why proper CPR training is indispensable.
Understanding and avoiding common mistakes when performing CPR is essential to ensure you’re helping and not inadvertently causing the victim further harm. So, let’s get you up to speed on what to watch out for and how to keep your CPR technique sharp and effective in Charleston.
Understanding CPR Before You Start
You may have a general idea of what CPR looks like, but performing it properly is a whole other ballgame. It’s not just about pushing on the chest and giving breaths – it’s about knowing the rhythm, depth, and technique that can save a life.
Formal CPR training will give you the hands-on experience and knowledge you need to respond effectively in an emergency. Instructors can offer immediate feedback, correcting any mistakes on the spot, which ensures that when you’re faced with a crisis, your skills are sharp, and your responses are second nature.
Misconceptions About CPR
You might think you’ve got the gist of CPR from movies or TV shows, but don’t let that fool you. Media portrayals often get it wrong, and what you see on screen can lead to a false sense of confidence. Relying on these dramatized versions can be dangerous, as they tend to oversimplify the process and skip over key components of the CPR technique.
Medical research continually advances, and with it, the best practices for life-saving techniques are updated. For example, the media still references the ABC method of resuscitation, even though the AHA started recommending the CAB principle back in 2010. That’s why regularly refreshing your CPR skills is essential. Even if you’ve been certified before, it’s wise to take a refresher course every two years to stay current with the latest guidelines.
Common Physical Mistakes During CPR
When you find yourself in a situation where you need to perform CPR on a person in need, your adrenaline is pumping, and you’re focused on saving a life. It’s great that you’re ready to act, but rushing into CPR without knowing how to do it properly can do more harm than good. Remember, while speed is essential, so is accuracy.
Let’s discuss the common physical mistakes you might make during CPR and how to avoid them.
Inaccurate Hand Placement
Getting your hands in the right spot is vital for effective chest compressions. Placing them too high or too low can cause additional injuries to the victim. That can result in broken ribs or damage to internal organs, and it may not effectively pump blood to the heart and the rest of the body.
For proper hand placement, follow these steps:
- Place the heel of one hand on the center of the person’s chest, right between the nipples.
- Put your other hand on top and interlace your fingers.
- Keep your arms straight and your shoulders directly above your hands. Incorrect hand placement
As for the chest compression depth, you’re aiming for about two inches (or about 5 centimeters) deep for adults. That’s deep enough to get the blood moving without causing injury. If you’re too gentle and go too shallow, you’re not doing much to circulate the blood.
On the other hand, pressing too firmly and going too deep can cause serious internal injuries, including rib fractures or lung punctures. When giving chest compressions to kids, the rule of thumb is to press about one-third of the depth of the chest, which usually amounts to about 1.5 inches (or roughly 4 centimeters).
Incorrect Compression Rate
The rate at which you do the compression is also significant. If you go too slow, you’re not maintaining enough blood flow to the person’s organs. Pump too fast, and the heart doesn’t have time to fill with blood between compressions, which also reduces the effectiveness of your efforts.
Plus, if you’re too frantic when doing the chest compression, you will get exhausted quickly and reduce the quality of the CPR you’re providing. The sweet spot is about 100 to 120 compressions per minute – like the beat to the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. The AHA has even compiled an official CPR playlist if you need other song examples.
Breathing-Related Errors in CPR
When you’re performing CPR, your primary goal is to keep blood flowing through the person’s body to support vital organs until professional help arrives. Often, this involves giving rescue breaths to the individual, but it’s not always necessary. If you’ve been trained and feel confident, rescue breaths can help, but only if you do them correctly.
Not Forming A Seal During Mouth-to-Mouth
While giving rescue breaths to a collapsed person is not always necessary, sometimes it’s unavoidable. As you know, to start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, you’ll need to:
- Ensure the victim’s airway is open
- Tilt their head back slightly and lift their chin
- Pinch their nose shut and take a normal breath (not a deep one)
- Place your mouth fully over theirs
For this technique to be fully effective, your mouth must completely cover the victim’s mouth. That will create a seal and prevent any air from escaping. If you don’t get this step right, air can leak out, and the lungs won’t inflate properly, leading to a reduced survival rate for the victim.
Providing Too Much Air
Now, let’s address the issue of giving too much air. You should give the person in need enough air to make the chest rise, which typically means a breath lasting about one second. if you blow too hard or too long, you risk over-inflating the lungs.
This can lead to increased pressure in the chest that not only hinders blood flow back to the heart but can also force air into the stomach. This added air in the stomach can cause discomfort, vomiting, and complications that may worsen the person’s chance of recovery.
Mistakes After You Have Started Doing CPR
Once you’ve started administering CPR, knowing when to stop safely is crucial. Your first instinct might be to stop doing compressions when you’re exhausted or if you think the person is showing signs of life, but this can be a mistake.
If you stop CPR before emergency medical personnel arrive or before the person is fully revived, it could lead to a fatal outcome. Circulation needs to be maintained consistently for the best chance of survival, and even brief interruptions can put the victim in danger. It’s important to continue until there’s a clear sign of recovery, like regular breathing, or until someone with more advanced training takes over.
Not Using an AED
If used at the same time you’re doing CPR, an AED can increase the victim’s chances of survival up to 74%. Still, many people hesitate to use them, thinking they need special training. This isn’t the case. AEDs come with straightforward instructions, and the device itself guides you through the process.
Ignoring an available AED because you’re not confident using it is a critical mistake. Its role is to analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electric shock to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.
Trying your best to avoid making any common mistakes when performing CPR can significantly impact the effectiveness of your life-saving efforts. Your hands should press at the right rhythm and depth, and you need to ensure the correct administration of breaths if you’re not performing hands-only CPR. Remember, your actions could be the difference between life and death for someone in cardiac arrest.
Proper training can’t be emphasized enough. You wouldn’t want your good intentions to fall short due to a lack of knowledge or confidence in your CPR skills. Seek out certified courses in Charleston that can provide you with hands-on practice under the guidance of professionals. It’s an investment in your ability to help others when they need it the most.
Finally, your readiness to perform CPR can leave a lasting impact. Avoiding common mistakes makes your role as a potential lifesaver even more critical. So, take the time to learn, practice, and stay informed. Your preparedness can turn a critical moment into a story of survival.