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The Hidden Dangers of CPR Legal Risks - Why Inaction is Far Riskier!

Updated: May 31, 2023

CPR is a specialized skill which can be of great help in saving lives.
CPR is a specialized skill which can be of great help in saving lives.

Performing CPR can be a life-saving act, but the fear of potential lawsuits may deter some bystanders from offering their assistance.

However, recent research indicates that the greater legal risk lies in refraining from helping.

A comprehensive analysis of three decades' worth of lawsuits in the United States revealed that only a small number of cases were linked to individuals performing CPR, whereas a significantly larger number were associated with delayed or inadequate CPR.

Surprisingly, the review also found that settlements or punitive damages exceeding $620 million were awarded for instances of delayed CPR, whereas the damages paid for performing CPR amounted to a mere $120,000.

Dr. Travis Murphy, the lead author of the study and an emergency medicine attending physician and fellow in surgical critical care at the University of Florida in Gainesville, stated, "The concerns individuals express about being held accountable for an unfavorable outcome when administering bystander CPR are largely unfounded. In reality, individuals are much more likely to face legal consequences for failing to provide CPR promptly."

These preliminary findings will be presented at the upcoming Resuscitation Science Symposium, hosted by the American Heart Association in Philadelphia.

To gather this information, researchers examined a legal research database containing jury verdicts, settlements, and appellate opinions from all 50 states spanning the years 1989 to 2019, specifically focusing on personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits involving the use or nonuse of CPR.

Out of the cases analyzed, 167 involved claims of negligence, with 74 cases ruling in favor of the person administering CPR. Additionally, three cases alleged battery, and two of them concluded in favor of the person performing CPR.

It's important to note that every state has enacted "Good Samaritan" laws, which provide legal protection to individuals who provide reasonable assistance to those they believe to be injured or in immediate danger.

"We hope that this information will empower individuals trained in bystander CPR to utilize their skills and help save lives," added Murphy.

Source: Learn, Enjoy, and Save Life. Healthforce Training Center offers CPR Training and certifications such as Basic Life Support (BLS), Advance Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS), CPR AED, Pediatric First Aid CPR AED, and First Aid CPR AED.

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