The issue of end of life care in Canada has been well underway and there has been a lot of legal, political, public and medical debate about it. You will find regular comments about it in not only the medical journals but also in the general press as well. Besides the Canadian Medical Association having announced the change in its ethics guidelines, there has been a decriminalization of assisted dying in Quebec while everyone is eagerly waiting for the Supreme Court of Canada to give a ruling on the same issue.

Two main factors of misapprehension

Use of CPR continues to be an issue that is poorly understood and also very difficult as far as end of life care is concerned. In a recent survey that aimed at seeking the knowledge of the general public in regard to CPR success rate, there has been a revelation that there exists a very wide gap between what people perceive and the reality. There are two main factors that are to be blamed for this kind of misapprehension and these are:

  • The public education availed by TV programs instead of providing accurate medical information
  • CPR has in recent times become a common hospital practice that is used even in circumstances that are not appropriate.

The CPR techniques being used today were actually developed about 5 decades ago and aimed at dealing with an abnormal heart rhythm that was fatal and a cessation in the circulation of blood which usually results in a very major heart attack. A human’s brain can survive only for about 3- 4 minutes without blood circulation and application of artificial respiration and chest compressions promptly is crucial to improving the survival chances.

In case a person suffers a very severe heart attack in hospital or just when near the emergency department of a hospital, the chance of survival stands at 20 percent. All other situations have minimal chances of survival and for people having terminal chronic disease, it can even be zero. But despite this reality, North America has seen CPR become a usual practice being done on every patient who seems to be dying at the hospital regardless of the cause unless the doctor gives specific orders that the patient shouldn’t be resuscitated.

Side effects of CPR

In case the hospitals policies don’t have do not resuscitate orders that are written or unwritten, the common practice at hospitals is for the doctors and nurses to use CPR as a way of responding to death. This development is quite inexplicable and no medical evidence can show its benefits. There are some very common and serious adverse effects of CPR ranging from physical to emotional and mental effects. A very common occurrence for example is the ribs and sternum becoming fractured and even in times of successful resuscitation, there is a likelihood of the patient suffering various mental difficulties which could even include changed personality, impaired brain function or even serious damage to the brain.