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This truth behind this myth could depress many people: the belief that CPR saves lives when in fact, if you code in the hospital (i.e., you lose a heartbeat/stop breathing), the chances you survive to discharge can be as low as 10%.  Don’t get me wrong, CPR does its job; you come back from the dead.  The chances that healthcare personnel revive you are as good as 45% but overall survival, meaning, how long you survive after you are revived, is extremely low.

Yes, there are circumstances that make your chances better or worse.  The younger or older you are and the more comorbidites you have, the less your chances of survival.  Interestingly enough, people with chronic pulmonary disease tend to have better outcomes.  In my experience, people with chronic lung issues are used to operating daily under sub-par conditions (i.e., the body itself is used to poor circulation/oxygenation).  Perhaps this makes coding less physically traumatizing for these patients.

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So why do people think CPR is a miraculous cure-all?  Because shows like House portray every patient coding and every patient walking out the door as if nothing happened.  Thanks for the misdirection, House!

House isn’t the only one at fault.  Hollywood has been skewing the public’s perception of the most critical aspects of our lives for decades now (love and death to name two).  It’s extremely frustrating to deal with as a healthcare professional.  The public is purely clueless and it’s your job to firmly, but gently, remind them that they are mortal.

And do not even get me started on movie medics shocking a patient in asystole.  I’m just like:

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