I honestly don't know how to take this. Part of me feels that the bystander acting as taught by their AHA course/instructor according to national consensus provides some serious footing. The chances of survival for the patient are pretty slim to begin with. And Lord knows that AHA has published things before with less than solid science behind it.
I recall a session in Orlando some years back when the "between the nipples" hand position was rolled out. The presenters said this was based on "looking at the nipple levels of 'several' dead, recumbent people, some of which had pendulous breasts."
Hmmmm. Maybe I could do research after all...
In any case here is an email from an attorney with EMS experience who proposes a poor legal prognosis for the new CPR guidelines:
I've discussed this issue on this list before, but given the current situation feel the need to mention it again.
The overall standard of emergency care/first aid/CPR and so forth is "reasonable care under the circumstances."
In particular, complying with a standard of care does NOT insulate someone from a negligence lawsuit if the standard itself is found to be unreasonably low. They teach this in law school by pointing out that on the day the Titanic sailed it complied with (and even exceeded) all maritime standards in place at the time, but still had lifeboats for only about half of the people involved -- so therefore the standard itself was substandard and people who complied with it (here, the Titanic's owners) were vulnerable to a negligence lawsuit.
We may very well have a comparable situation with compression-only CPR. Pardon me for saying so, but I'm something of an expert in the law of emergency care (among other things, I'm a part-time law school professor), and as such an expert I am gravely concerned that a jury could find that giving compression-only CPR was substandard care and therefore negligence (with resultant liability) *even if* that's how the rescuer were taught to do it. This would particularly apply in situations were the Good Samaritan law likely did not apply, such as in the workplace.
(Actually, what would likely happen in the event of litigation was that not only would the rescuer be sued -- along with their employer, if any -- but also the instructor who taught them this technique and the organization that the instructor worked for.)
From a liability point of view, this new supposed "standard" scares the hell out of me. I am going to be in Absolutely No Rush to teach it, and will discourage it if it is mentioned by any of my students.
Please feel free to forward this.
Jay Wiseman, JD
I'll end this post as I did my last: Keep doing good things for people. It is never wrong.