Complications of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

There is no doubt; cardiopulmonary resuscitation can be lifesaving in some circumstances. But CPR can also cause complications. In medicine, it is always essential to weigh the risks versus the benefits when deciding whether to perform a medical procedure. With CPR, it is pretty clear-cut, even with risks the procedure needs to be performed. But being aware of complications will help you do what you can to limit them. Below are a few possible complications of CPRCPR Training

Fractured Ribs: When you are doing chest compressions, it is possible to break a rib. Although a broken rib can occur in any patient, it is more common in the elderly. In many instances, there is no way to completely prevent fracturing a rib. But ensuring proper hand position may help reduce the possibility.

Liver Contusions or Laceration: Although it is an uncommon complication of compressions, a liver laceration or contusion is a possibility. The chances of a liver laceration increase if compressions are done too forcefully or if the chest is compressed at too great a depth. Once again, performing high-quality compressions properly may reduce the risk of liver contusions.

Vomiting and Aspiration: Aspirating fluid or vomit into the lungs is a common complication or CPR. There are a few reasons vomiting may occur during CPR. During compressions, it is not uncommon for the pressure applied to the chest to lead to vomiting. In addition, vomiting is a symptom of some cardiac conditions. Lastly, if you are also manually ventilating the patient with a bag-mask, air can enter the stomach causing distension and vomiting.

If you are ventilating the patient, avoid bagging too fast, which increases the chances of distention. In addition, if the patient does vomit, suction the mouth to avoid aspiration.  

Bruising and Tissue Injury: Performing chest compressions can be traumatic. Pumping on someone’s chest forcefully can lead to hematomas and injury to the tissues of the chest. It is very common for patients who survive to feel very sore for days after the event. Because of the force needed to maintain adequate perfusion during CPR, there is not much you can do to prevent this complication.

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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