If you watch much television, or have seen a few films, you’ll know that CPR on TV is pretty successful, right? Which sometimes makes students ask us in class why our teaching doesn’t match the CPR on TV, well read on…..
After all, CPR survival rates are pretty high on TV, yet we seem to be saying that people might not survive, and that you shouldn’t expect them to get up and shake your hand for doing a good job, hand over their life savings or offer marriage. True enough, they might not. Let’s take a quick look.


CPR on TV - CPR survival rates
Wow! Those TV doctors must be really good at their jobs. If my family ever need CPR, I know where to send them. CPR on TV – it’s great!

 CPR in Real Life

CPR at home - CPR survival rates
Ah yes, that’s not so good. It is much more realistic though. (As you’ll remember from last week’s post about CPR survival rates.)
Depending on which study you read, for every 100 people who need CPR an average of 32 will get it. Half of those who get it, will get it done correctly. Not text-book perfect either, we’re talking ‘correct enough to work’. One or two of those 100 will survive. That’s a CPR survival rate of 1-2% not 77%. So we continue to teach you that it might not be like CPR on TV.

How do we know about CPR on TV?

Well, someone had the hard job of sitting down and watching it. (Yes really, ‘watching TV’ for a living.) That must be part of the reason everyone who needs CPR gets it. They were watching ‘medical’ shows after all. They weren’t just going to watch TV and hope that someone needs CPR. Still, it doesn’t explain CPR survival rates of 77%. That can only be to make things interesting to watch.

Want more?

The New England Journal of Medicine published the CPR on TV study. General survival rates are listed here (and in many other places). Finally, if you’d like your own family & friends to be in that little blue box rather than the big white void, best book yourself some training. It’s not a survival promise, but they’ll have a better chance if you and others around them know what to do.