A: There often comes a time when patients are so ill that they may only be kept alive by “artificial” means. Prior to about 1960, such patients died, but since then a number of life-sustaining or even life-restoring technologies have been invented providing patients, families and physicians with previously unimaginable options. These technologies may at time be clearly beneficial and assist in restoring the patient to health. At other times the very same technology serves only to prolong dying and even increase the suffering of the patient. In such cases, physicians will often recommend that the technology be withheld and the focus of treatment shift from cure to palliative or comfort.
CPR is a medical intervention performed on a person whose heart has stopped beating (cardiac arrest) or whose breathing has stopped (respiratory arrest). CPR generally includes forceful compression of the chest over the breastbone, the placement of a tube in the windpipe (intubation) with artificial (mechanical) assisted breathing, electrical shocks to the body, the placement of large-needle IV lines for the administration of drugs and other more complicated procedures.
Next month – Does CPR work?