What If Someone You’re Performing CPR On Dies?

When looking at the history of CPR, you’ll see that ever since it was first invented, its purpose has been to help save lives. But what if doing CPR isn’t always enough? Not everyone asks the question – What if someone dies? You’re performing CPR on the principle that you’re saving a life, not thinking of the possibility of the person not surviving.

While CPR is a lifesaving technique, there’s no guarantee it will be successful. For example, only 25.5% of patients of cardiac arrest patients survived in 2023 despite having received high-quality CPR. When you’re faced with the death of someone you’ve tried to resuscitate, it’s important to understand the range of emotions that can follow, from guilt to grief.

You should also be aware that legally, as long as you’ve acted in good faith and adhered to your training, you’re generally protected by Good Samaritan laws. So, no matter the outcome, your attempt at performing CPR demonstrates a will to help someone in need.

Anyway, let’s dive in and explore everything you need to know about CPR, as well as what happens in situations with negative outcomes.

What Is CPR’s Purpose?

CPR is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths that help maintain vital blood flow to the body’s organs and can keep a person alive until professional medical help arrives. When you’re faced with a situation that calls for CPR, you’re trying to supply oxygen to the brain and other critical organs, potentially preventing permanent damage or death.

CPR can be used in different emergencies, such as:

    • Drowning

    • Choking

    • Sudden cardiac arrest

    • Electrocution

    • Drug overdose

    • Loss of consciousness

    • Severe allergic reaction

Statistics on CPR Effectiveness

While administering CPR isn’t guaranteed to save the life of the victim, it does improve their chances of survival. Recent studies show that when CPR is performed immediately, not only does it lead to a greater survival rate, but the patients suffer fewer neurological complications.

What Can Lead To CPR Failing

In the stressful moment when someone’s heart stops beating, taking quick and decisive action to resuscitate them can mean the difference between life and death. But despite best efforts, there are several reasons why CPR efforts might not work:

    • Delay in Starting CPR. For every minute that a person goes without CPR, the chance that they’ll live goes down by 10%. Every second counts, and the longer the brain and organs go without oxygen, the lower the chances of successful resuscitation.

    • Internal Injuries. The person may be suffering from extensive internal bleeding or a collapsed lung. Unfortunately, in this case, CPR isn’t enough to help them.

    • Underlying Medical Conditions. These can include advanced heart disease, heart attacks, or previous cardiac arrests. The heart might be too weak or damaged to regain a normal rhythm, even with perfect chest compressions and rescue breaths.

    • Improper CPR Technique. If you’re not pressing hard or fast enough, or if you’re not allowing the chest to recoil between compressions fully, you might not be moving enough blood to keep the brain and other vital organs alive. If you place your hands incorrectly, you can injure the person or fail to pump the heart properly.

Even a blocked airway or a buildup of acid in the body can make CPR less likely to succeed. It’s a tough reality, but even with prompt and correct CPR, some situations are beyond your control.

What If Someone Dies During CPR

When you’re performing CPR, you must keep an eye out for signs that the individual is beyond help. You’ll know CPR isn’t successful when there’s a sustained absence of pulse and breathing.

In these moments, your response should center around respect for the deceased. It’s crucial to handle the situation with the same care and dignity you would want for your own loved ones. This means continuing CPR until professional help arrives unless you’re certain the person has passed away – indicated by unmistakable signs such as rigor mortis, which would be unusual during the time frame of immediate resuscitation efforts.

What to Do Next

It’s already clear that if it comes to such an unfortunate event, you must first alert emergency services in case they’re not already on the scene. Then, you must preserve the scene, as this allows first responders to assess the situation accurately. It’s also worth noting that if an AED was used, it should be left in place for the emergency personnel to review.

After the authorities arrive, you’ll likely need to provide a statement. You’ll recount your actions and any observations you made about the person’s condition before and during CPR. Make sure to stick to the facts and avoid speculating about what could have been done differently.

It’s normal to experience a wave of emotions if someone dies during CPR. You might feel like a failure or question what you could have done differently. Even if it wasn’t successful, it’s important to remember that by stepping up to perform CPR, you’ve given that person the best chance of survival. You’ve done everything you could.

Legal Considerations

Your decision to perform CPR, even if it’s not successful, is protected by the law. Many states, including Florida, have a Good Samaritan Act in place to encourage people to offer emergency medical assistance without fear of finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.

They’ll provide you with immunity as long as you:

    • Acted in good faith.

    • Without gross negligence.

    • Within the scope of your knowledge and training.

Despite these protections, legal issues could arise if, for example, you continue to provide care after professional help arrives and you’re asked to step back or if you attempt procedures that are beyond your level of training. If someone dies during CPR, these laws typically shield you from liability, provided you haven’t acted with intentional wrongdoing.

Ethical Considerations

On the ethical side, your decision to perform CPR carries the weight of life-saving potential, but it also comes with the responsibility to respect the wishes of the person you’re helping. If they have a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, and you’re aware of it, proceeding with CPR would be both legally and ethically problematic.

It’s tough in situations like this, as you’ll be guided by the desire to help but must respect the boundaries set by law and ethics. By getting a CPR certification in Boca Raton, you’ll be informed about your rights and can make the right choices when they matter most.

Handling the Emotional Impact

If your best efforts to give CPR to someone experiencing a medical emergency outcome fail, the outcome can have an emotional impact. It’s natural to be sad and frustrated or even experience PTSD. Dealing with these feelings is a personal journey, but remember, it’s okay to get help.

Talking to someone can be incredibly beneficial. If you’re struggling with grief and stress following such an intense event, consider reaching out to a professional counselor. They’re trained to help you process these emotions and can offer strategies to help you cope.

You might also find some comfort in support groups. Connecting with others who’ve been through the same experience can be comforting. These groups provide a space where you can openly discuss your feelings without judgment. Sharing your story and listening to others can reinforce that you’re not alone in this.

What If CPR Fails: Final Thoughts

Situations that require someone to give CPR to another person are unpredictable, and despite everything, the victim may not make it. It’s tough to face this reality, but don’t let the thought of what if someone you’re performing CPR on dies deter you from acting. Any attempt at CPR is incredibly valuable, regardless of the result.

Every second counts, and your actions can be the difference between life and death. You’re part of a community that’s committed to helping others in their most critical moments. So, keep this in mind and let it fuel your resolve to learn and apply CPR when necessary.

You never know when your intervention could offer someone a fighting chance. If you haven’t already, consider getting a CPR certification in Boca Raton. Your courage and willingness to step up can truly make a world of difference.