Should unresponsive overdose victims receive rescue breaths or chest compressions from lay bystanders?
If a person is apneic but not in cardiac arrest, failing to give rescue breaths may lead this person to fall into cardiac arrest.
But, if the person is apneic and in cardiac arrest, failure to do quality chest compressions, will lead to their death.
This is a difficult question that we debated in our opioid overdose working group last year. We chose to follow the American Heart Association standards and tell lay rescuers to do chest compressions in apneic patients rather than attempting rescue breathing.
Chest compressions-only are simple, easy to learn, and backed by science.
I like the chest compression for the lay public because:
Chest compressions while providing some circulatory support also provide passive ventilation. *
Chest compressions are also a great stimulus to revive someone from an apneic state.
Most people don’t do rescue breathing very well.
The Ontario Canada Ministry of Health...
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