Submitted on Mon, 08/09/2010 - 08:55
The New England Journal of Medicine just published a study casting doubt on the utility of rescue breathing—commonly known as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation—in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Residents in the state of Washington participated in a large trial in which emergency dispatchers recommended either chest compressions accompanied by rescue breathing or chest compressions alone as they gave instructions to bystanders in the cases of 1941 people who suffered out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The success (or, more accurately, lack of success, since only 1 in 8 patients survived to hospital discharge) of the victims was followed and tabulated. Persons receiving the full “standard” CPR that included mouth-to-mouth did no better (in fact, a little worse) than those who received only chest compressions. The verdict of the study is that the use of rescue breathing by bystanders is of no benefit.
This report comes on the heels of other studies that produced similar results. A paperpublished in 2006 evaluated a similar system of “CPR minus mouth-to-mouth” and showed that focusing on the “cardio” part of CPR and eliminating the “pulmonary” portion proved to be a vast improvement. Another study from Japan, published in The Lancet in 2007, demonstrated improved success of resuscitation if it were limited to chest compressions only.