Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a technique that saves lives. CPR includes chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. As the person performing CPR, you must be in close contact with the victim, including breathing into their mouth. Therefore, it is essential that you take precautionary measures to avoid any contamination by saliva, blood or other infected body fluids.
Here are certain safety precautions to be aware of if you are performing CPR.
• Shields and Masks – When performing CPR on a patient, be sure to wear a face shield or mask to prevent direct contact with the patient. During mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, fluids may be transferred from the patient to you, and a mask will protect you. The face shields are transparent and contain a one-way valve through which you can deliver rescue breaths. The mask prevents direct contact with the patient’s saliva and blood.
• Gloves – If you are a health care worker or paramedic and perform CPR on a regular basis, you should always wear gloves. This is to avoid direct contact with the patient’s blood, vomit, or other potentially infected body fluids. Your health is important and staying clean is very necessary to prevent infections. Wash your hands with soap after each CPR administration.
• Gowns and Eyewear – In a hospital or clinic setting, you are required to wear gowns and eyewear when performing CPR in case blood accidentally splashes in your face or eyes.
• Dispose of soiled equipment: Once CPR is complete, dispose of all soiled equipment, such as gowns and eye protection, masks, and gowns, in a biohazardous container.
• Health of the victim: The use of protective equipment such as masks and face shields not only protects your health but also that of the victim, since the victim has the same chance of contracting an infection.
• Layperson: If you are a layperson performing CPR on a stranger, you may not have access to this safety equipment. Therefore, it is recommended that you purchase a mask and carry it with you in case you are in a situation and need to perform emergency CPR.
• CPR on infants and toddlers: You must be very careful when performing CPR on infants and toddlers. If the baby is not breathing, give gentle compressions with up to three fingers. Give about a hundred chest compressions in a minute. Gently press your fingers on the center of the baby’s chest below the nipple. When giving rescue breaths, cover the baby’s nose and mouth and take two breaths, each breath lasting one second. This is different from an adult in that it does not cover the adult’s mouth while performing rescue breaths. Repeat thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths for as long as it takes for the child to start breathing or until medical help arrives.
Thus, you can see that both you and the victim are at risk of getting infections of any kind from each other. Since the victim is usually unresponsive, it is your responsibility to take safety precautions while performing CPR.