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Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation presents interesting legal questions. Although training and practice are required to be proficient at CPR, it has become a first-aid skill expected of all medical care providers. It is expected that every patient who suffers a cardiac or respiratory arrest will receive CPR unless there are specific written orders to the contrary. Hospitals may face litigation if they do not have a capable CPR team available at all times, yet the benefits of CPR in a hospital setting are unproved. In many cases it is simply delaying death and adds thousands of dollars to the bill.

The standard of care is that anyone who discovers a patient who is not breathing or has no pulse should call the CPR team. There should never be limitations on who may call a code. Since seconds can mean the difference between life and death, there is no justification for requiring that the call be verified by a physician or nurse. It is better to send the team away than not to have them when needed.

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