Monday, August 31, 2015

CPR: It's not always a lifesaver, but it plays one on TV

Public Release: 28-Aug-2015
CPR: It's not always a lifesaver, but it plays one on TV
Popular medical dramas make resuscitation look twice as effective as in real life -- and it may influence real patient decisions, according to a USC study
University of Southern California

If you think that performing CPR on a person whose heart has stopped is a surefire way to save their life, you may be watching too much TV.

The truth is more depressing than fiction, according to a new study by University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology researchers. While medical dramas Grey's Anatomy and House show cardiopulmonary resuscitation saving a patient's life nearly 70 percent of the time, the real immediate survival rate is nearly half that - around 37 percent.

Researchers also found another discrepancy between reality and TV: Half of the characters who received CPR made enough of a recovery to eventually leave the hospital, but in reality, only 13 percent of patients given CPR survive in the long-term, said senior author and Davis School Associate Professor Susan Enguidanos, an expert in end-of-life care.

"Most people have no knowledge of actual CPR survival and thus make medical care decisions for themselves and family members based on inaccurate assumptions," Enguidanos said.

Some people think it's a no-brainer that fiction sometimes distorts the truth, but research has shown that 42 percent of older adults report that their health knowledge comes from TV. Many are likely basing their care preferences on inaccurate ideas of what risks they face and how survivable a heart attack is, Enguidanos said.


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