Going by Monday’s comic I think it’s safe to say, in Sean Bean’s case, the two scenarios would be reverse.

I just re-read* this article about doctors who choose not to take advantage of certain ‘life saving’ or at least ‘life extending’ medical procedures, despite their availability to them, because they are aware of the limitations of modern medicine. They are also aware of certain consequences, such as dramatic drops in quality of life, without the added benefit of much life extension. Anecdotal, and perhaps slightly pessimistic**, but telling. I guess when dealing with patients, or rather, families making decisions for ill loved ones, the difference comes down to ‘is there a chance?” rather than “what are the statistics, consequences and subsequent survival rates?”. Before he passed from his illness, Christopher Hitchens also pondered whether prior knowledge of treatment-consequences would have affected his decision to apply them.

With CPR on TV, it seems we have been sold a bit too much hype, with around 3 in 4 accounts showing success***. In reality only about 5-10% of CPR recipients survive. To be fair though, if we’re going by TV rules I think success rates increase in direct proportion to passion. I have no problem with this. Even kids know not to assume real-world-applicability of events depicted on TV.**** That being said I also think the purpose of CPR itself is misrepresented as a measure of revival rather than something to do (maintaining a degree of blood-flow) to buy time until actual measures of revival (defibrillation etc.) are available. It’s easy to see confirmation bias at work here. If someone administers CPR and the patient receives proper subsequent treatment, the CPR part is always mentioned. This is not always the case in reverse, and you’re less likely to hear about those (heaps of non-confirming) cases as well.

On to the rib floating. If done properly, ribs tend to break. This sucks if you’re already in bad shape, double so if you’re not going to survive after being revived anyway due to being gravely ill beyond the arrest. That’s where DNR bracelets come in (but you have to have a valid reason to qualify, so don’t go making any silly jewelry). I’m glad that, at least in this small area, the patient has the right to choose.

Compared to Media depictions, the reality of certain life saving procedures is daunting, but as the man says despite being less effective than normally perceived, it’s certainly much better than doing nothing.


avatar-maki-leftCPR is no joke on the ribs. After all, the purpose is to compress the chest into simulating breathing and heartbeat. Those poor ribs. Similarly, proper care must be maintained to not compress too low on the center of the chest, or you might snap the sternum into sharp-bone-shard-in-the-diaphragm town. Former NYC firefighter Tom Ziegler has a particularly tragic tale that he told at The Moth. (Warning: Intense)

This post was brought to you by: This information Nugget: I’m not CPR certified (yet), so try not to collapse in front of me!
*it looks like this article was just posted a few days ago, but I’m certain I read it a while back.

**Pessimism is always more trustworthy than optimism!

***Although probably good for a general estimate, it’s worth noting these numbers come from studies done in the ’90′s and a limited number of shows.

****CAVEATS! (gotta love ‘em), these folks would disagree.