CPR: It’s not always a lifesaver, but it plays one on TV

Sep 2, 2015

Health First

By University of Southern California

If you think that performing CPR on a person whose heart has stopped is a surefire way to save their life, you may be watching too much TV.

The truth is more depressing than fiction, according to a new study by University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology researchers. While medical dramas Grey’s Anatomy and House show cardiopulmonary resuscitation saving a patient’s life nearly 70 percent of the time, the real immediate survival rate is nearly half that — around 37 percent.

Researchers also found another discrepancy between reality and TV: Half of the characters who received CPR made enough of a recovery to eventually leave the hospital, but in reality, only 13 percent of patients given CPR survive in the long-term, said senior author and Davis School Associate Professor Susan Enguidanos, an expert in end-of-life care.

“Most people have no knowledge of actual CPR survival and thus make medical care decisions for themselves and family members based on inaccurate assumptions,” Enguidanos said.


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