Health care aides work on the front lines of health care, and support patients of all ages. They assist children coping with debilitating medical conditions, adults with special health care needs, and elderly patients striving to maintain independence in their homes or long term care facilities.
CPR and First Aid certification should be included in any reputable, high-quality health care aid training program. Students must be prepared to intervene in cases of emergency, and know how to perform potentially life-saving procedures on patients of all ages.
And according to the American Heart Association (AHA), CPR does indeed help save lives. Provided immediately after cardiac arrest, effective CPR can double the patient's chance of survival. If CPR is not administered, the victim's chances of survival fall by 7-10% every minute until defibrillation can be provided.
But there is a big gap between a general understanding of CPR, and actually performing it accurately in a moment of crisis. CPR only protects life if every step is followed correctly. What are some of the most common mistakes beginners make when administering CPR? Read on for the top 5 CPR myths and errors.
1. Skipping over crucial first steps
When emergency strikes, it's common for inexperienced health care providers to skip over key first steps in their rush to begin CPR. These essential, preliminary steps include:
- calling 911 (or instructing someone else to do so)
- ensuring the patient is in a safe area
- retrieving the automated external defibrillator (AED), if one is available
- ensuring the patient is positioned correctly
2. Shallow chest compressions
It's normal for beginners to worry about bruising the patient, or damaging ribs, while administering CPR. Unfortunately, these concerns often result in shallow chest compressions, which are not fast or deep enough to be effective. Ideally, compressions should be delivered with straight arms and locked fingers, using body weight, and reach approximately 2 inches in depth.
3. Incorrect positioning of the patient
Even if you follow all of the correct mechanical procedures of CPR, if the patient is not positioned correctly, your efforts will be in vain. For example, it's common for health care providers to forget to tilt the patient's head back far enough to open the airway—or to accidentally close the patient's mouth while lifting their chin.
If the patient has slumped forward, with the head tilted toward the chest, air will be restricted from flowing into the lungs. The patient should be positioned on their back, on a flat surface, with the head tilted back in order to facilitate air flow. If you need to roll the patient into the correct position, don't forget to support their neck and head while doing so.
4. Forgetting to pinch the nose shut
If you give rescue breaths without pinching the patient's nose shut, air blown into the mouth will simply exit out the nose. Don't forget to gently pinch the nose to ensure the air you deliver is successfully forced into the patient's lungs.
5. Focussing too much on ventilation
Another common CPR mistake is focussing too much on ventilation, and failing to deliver enough chest compressions. The American Heart Association recommends that health care professionals start CPR with chest compressions, beginning with 30 compressions, followed by just 2 rescue breaths.
It's important to remember that the number of compressions and rescue breaths can differ depending on age and medical condition. According to the AHA, newborns require 3 compressions followed by one rescue breath. And if the newborn is suffering from cardiac arrest in particular, 15:2 is the preferred ratio of compressions-to-ventilation.
Health care aid training teaches students the recommended ratio for patients of different ages and medical circumstances.
Explore the Health Care Aide Training offered by Herzing College in Winnipeg. Click below to learn all about the program, see a detailed list of courses, get admission information—or chat live with a friendly advisor. We're here to help!