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When Should You Stop Doing CPR?

When Should You Stop Doing CPR

We often learn how to perform CPR but what we don’t learn is when to stop. If you ever come across someone who needs CPR, you should assess the situation before diving headfirst. Here are 4 ways to determine when to stop doing CPR!

Obvious Death

Naturally, you would start CPR immediately if you notice someone going into cardiac arrest. However, there are times when you might not witness the victim going through cardiac arrest. It’s also likely that the deceased suffered from non-viable injuries such as catastrophic brain trauma.

Here are some warning indicators to look out for when you encounter an unresponsive victim:

  • Injuries not compatible with life: These kinds of injuries are severe, and even the best CPR efforts will be ineffective. Some examples are decapitation or amputations. Some EMS services have protocols that prevent paramedics from performing CPR on major traumatic arrests, which only occurs when the victim suffers a catastrophic injury that causes them to bleed profusely, stopping the heart.
  • Cold to the touch: If you touch someone and they are extremely cold to the touch, CPR will likely not be effective. However, the environment must be considered. Feeling the skin may give incorrect indicators as there are chances that the person has been outside in cold weather or if they are a drowning victim.

Some bodies may feel incredibly warm even though they have been dead for hours. When determining when to begin CPR, these factors should be considered.

  • Rigor mortis: It’s the third stage of death and is one of the recognized indications of death. It’s caused by chemical changes in the muscles post mortem that’ll cause the corpse’s limbs to stiffen. Rigor mortis can strike individuals as quickly as 4 hours after death. It’s too late to start CPR if you find the victim with stiff limbs that can’t be moved.
  • Livor Mortis: If you notice a bluish color on a deceased victim, that is called a “Livor”. It’s caused by blood settling on the skin and eventually penetrating it, making it evidence of death. It looks like bruises but covers a huge area of the body.

It often occurs at a person’s center of gravity. This sign is commonly obscured by clothing and might only be visible when the victim is rolled over.

Physical Fatigue

CPR might take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours before a person responds. Longer resuscitation efforts have been demonstrated to increase brain function in survivors. The younger you are, the longer you should attempt CPR. CPR should be stopped if you are physically unable to continue compressions. There is no legal justification for holding a person accountable in this case.

Signs of Life

When you are performing CPR, it is not recommended to check for a pulse every 2 minutes. Once you start, it should be continued without interruption as long as you can until there are clear signs of life. Here are some key signs to look out for:

  • Making sounds: If you hear the victim’s uneven breathing. However, you should listen to more obvious noises like moaning or speaking.
  • Movement of the eyes: If the victim is blinking or looking around.
  • Purposeful movement: If the victim is grimacing or moving their head.

Resume CPR if the victim becomes unconscious again.

Professional Help Arrives

Once professional assistance arrives and takes over CPR, you can stop. A professional first responder, such as a paramedic or a firefighter, is usually considered professional help. If you’re willing and competent, they could ask you to keep doing compressions while they set up their equipment. If not, you may be instructed to stop so that they can take over quickly.

Learn CPR with South Florida Healthcare Institute

Want to be prepared if ever you come across an unresponsive victim? Start your CPR lessons with us! At South Florida Healthcare Institute, we offer courses ranging from Basic Life Support to Advanced Cardiac Life Support where you can learn and earn a certificate. Interested? Register with us today!

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