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CPR or comfort measures: between a rock and a hard place

The Resuscitation Council (UK) states that less than 10% of people who have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) outside hospital survive. By discussing CPR with older people in care homes, are we offering them false hope?

The Resuscitation Council (UK) states that less than 10% of people who have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) outside hospital survive. By discussing CPR with older people in care homes, are we offering them false hope?

The phrase ‘between a rock and a hard place’ describes being faced with two equally difficult alternatives. As nurses, we ask older people to choose between a rock and a hard place when we either attempt the life-saving procedure of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or provide comfort measures only.

When asked: ‘Do you want us to perform CPR if you stop breathing?’ most people will say yes.

A violent death

We think we know what CPR involves: it is often portrayed on television dramas with the actor quickly feeling better, sitting up in bed and


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