Emergency life support

These two recent commentaries by pediatrician and researcher Aaron Carroll MD are quite interesting. The gist is that in a number of studies it appears that basic emergency life support — CPR and automatic defibrillators, for example — does such a good job of saving lives that more advanced treatment from a highly trained paramedic may not only be no better, but can actually be slightly worse.

There are a number of possible explanations for that surprising result. One is that advanced life support takes longer and it may be better to rush the patient to the hospital. Another is that the some of the treatments themselves, such as inserting an airway or administering drugs to raise blood pressure, may traumatize the patient. That second suggestion is my own amateur guess, not something Dr Carroll says. I have another amateur guess: It may be that advanced life support is very helpful, even vital, only for some patients and should not be avoided all the time but used only when it’s really needed.

The first video conveys the basic points. The second adds additional information and responds to objections.

Link: https://youtu.be/Hkel6XApBn8

Link: https://youtu.be/pHtXpdiCjlw

One more thing: CPR training isn’t hard to get and gives you a real chance to save a life. Also, more and more public places have AEDs — automated external defibrillators — that can restart a heart and can be used by almost anybody, and I suspect many CPR courses now include an introduction to using an AED. (It can be used even by an untrained person, but training helps.) Take a course!

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