The Hidden Harms of CPR

August 7, 2023

(The New Yorker) – For decades, physicians have debated whether CPR should be offered to people who suffer from the final blows of incurable illness, be it heart failure, advanced cancer, or dementia. Although CPR has become synonymous with medical heroism, nearly eighty-five per cent of those who receive it in a hospital die, their last moments marked by pain and chaos. The pandemic only deepened the risks: every chest compression spewed contagious particles into the air, and intubation, which often follows compressions, exposed doctors to virus-laden saliva. Hospitals in Michigan and Georgia reported that no COVID patient survived the procedure. An old question acquired new urgency: Why was CPR a default treatment, even for people as sick as Ernesto? (Read More)