- Oct 24, 2012
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CPR can sometimes save lives, but it also has a dark side.
But this is life or death — even if the odds are grim, what's the harm in trying if some will live? The harm, as it turns out, can be considerable. Chest compressions are often physically, literally harmful. "Fractured or cracked ribs are the most common complication," wrote the original Hopkins researchers, but the procedure can also cause pulmonary hemorrhage, liver lacerations, and broken sternums.
"The act of resuscitation itself cannot be expected to cure the inciting disease," the Hopkins researchers wrote in 1961.
A patient with terminal cancer who is resuscitated will still have terminal cancer. In those cases, the most humane approach may be to ease the pain of the dying process, rather than build a bridge to nowhere.