Majority of patients misjudge CPR success rates: 4 things to know

The majority of patients and nonmedical personnel perceive cardiopulmonary resuscitation as more successful than it actually is, according to a study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

An overly optimistic view of CPR may come from the successful life-saving measures portrayed in medical dramas, which can often obstruct patients' decision-making processes and conversations about their end-of-life care, the research team wrote.

The researchers surveyed 1,000 adults at four academic medical centers. Participants included noncritically ill patients and families of patients, who were interviewed during random hospital shifts.

The researchers asked the participants what they knew about CPR and their personal experiences with CPR. Additionally, the researchers asked participants to estimate the likelihood of CPR success and patient survival in different scenarios.

Here are four things to know about the study.

1. Although the overall survival rate that leads to discharge for a patient who experiences cardiac arrest is approximately 10.6 percent, most study participants reported they thought this success rate was over 75 percent.

2. When the researchers presented participants with a scenario where an 8-year-old patient experienced trauma-related cardiac arrest, 71 percent predicted CPR success and 64 percent predicted the child's long-term survival. "Many people felt if a person was successfully revived, they would return to 'normal' rather than possibly needing lifelong care," lead study author Lindsey Ouellette told Reuters.

3. Over 70 percent of participants said they regularly watched medical dramas. Of these participants, 12 percent said these shows served as a reliable source of health information.

4. Patients and their families should know the real success and survival rates as they plan a living will and consider a "Do Not Resuscitate" order, Ms. Ouellette said. "We think it is best to have the latest and most accurate information when dealing with this life-impacting decision, whether or not to undertake or continue CPR."

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