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How Good Are Your CPR Skills? Research Shows Monthly Practice Is Crucial

May 11, 2012

A nurse practices CPR on a voice advisory manikin. Photo courtesy of Laerdal Medical.

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Most of you are probably aware of the AHA’s revised CPR guidelines that were issued in 2010. They include a major change in the resuscitation sequence—which now begins with chest compressions rather than ventilation—and emphasize the importance of achieving adequate compression of the chest—“at least two inches (5 cm)”—to achieve adequate blood flow. (You can see a video by the AHA demonstrating the new guidelines here.)  This change is especially important in light of recent research on CPR skills.

In 2011, Marilyn H. Oermann and colleagues conducted research with nursing students to determine how often one needs to practice CPR skills to maintain competence. 

As she explains in an article in the May issue of AJN, students who practiced briefly each month not only maintained their skills, but improved them significantly by the end of 12 months.

In comparison, the skills of those who only  had an initial training session deteriorated after three months; by 12 months, few could perform CPR adequately, especially in terms of achieving adequate depth for chest compressions. And although these were students, Oermann describes studies showing similar results with paramedics, non-ICU nurses, and nurse anesthetists. 

Most hospitals and agencies only require an annual review or demonstration of skills to be recertified in CPR; few, I bet, measure the depth of compressions. Sounds like it’s time to revisit this practice.

You can hear Oermann discuss her article in a podcast with Jo Haag, director of global training, ECC Programs, AHA, and Vanderbilt nursing professor Mary Fran Hazinski, a clinical specialist in pediatric critical care at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and a senior science editor at the AHA.

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One comment

  1. With above AHA also stated in their same document, “BLS skills can be learned equally well with practice while watching (video-based) training as through longer, traditional instructor-led courses”.

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