Let’s break down how to stay safe from pathogens when performing CPR on a person. Bacteria and other organisms can spread quite fast during many kinds of life-saving procedures. This is especially true when giving rescue breaths during CPR. In this article, we detail the measures and steps you should take to protect yourself from pathogens that might spread while conducting CPR. When you have to perform this technique on one or multiple individuals, you must also limit the inadvertent harm it can cause you.
The text below goes over the basic steps of performing CPR, the spread of bacteria and pathogens, the protective equipment you need, and precautions to take. We have provided several guides on how to stay safe from pathogens when performing CPR.
The Proper Steps of CPR Performance and Staying Safe From Pathogens
CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a procedure used to save a person’s life should their heart or breathing cease. In a year, more than 300,000 Americans suffer from cardiac arrest outside of hospitals, and almost 90% of them do not survive.
Having a CPR certified person perform CPR greatly increases the chances of living. When learning how to successfully execute CPR for a certificate, the steps taught are as follows:
- Scan the area for safety and put on the personal protective equipment (PPE) before attending to the individual in need of CPR.
- Check for any responsiveness, such as breathing, pulse, profuse bleeding, or other life-threatening injuries.
- If the individual is unresponsive, not breathing, or gasping for breath, call 9-1-1 and prepare them for CPR by making sure they are on a flat, solid surface on their back.
- Give them 30 chest compressions following the instructions that have been taught on the right method to do so.
- After this, give the individual two breaths but make sure you are in the right position so that the chest rises.
- Continue to give them sets of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths until they start to breathe normally or the ambulance arrives.
How Pathogens Spread and Their Range and Speed During CPR
Infections can spread in three ways, and based on this, they are categorized as either contact, droplet, or airborne infections. It is the droplet pathogens that are the main concern when you perform CPR.
If you are not in possession of an automated defibrillator (AED) or bag-mask ventilation, you may have to perform CPR with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Bacteria and pathogens can spread as droplets of saliva, mucus, or blood. Even with a ventilator by your side, there is a chance during CPR that the individual could cough on you.
Infection transmission can occur through direct contact, aerosol, oral, and other ways. When a person coughs or sneezes, depending on the force, the droplets can travel as far as 6 feet. Fluids being exchanged is almost guaranteed without proper protection, so this is absolute when performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
What Aerosol-Generating Procedures Are
Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is part of what is referred to as aerosol-generating procedures or AGP. These are medical procedures that could potentially result in aerosol being released from one person and transferred to another. Aerosols are liquid particles or fine solids that travel in the air.
Other such procedures include:
- ENT procedures
- Gastro-intestinal endoscopy
- Dental procedures
- A number of surgeries or post-mortem exams
- Sputum induction
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Required To Wear
Proper equipment is needed for any kind of medical intervention. Having even just one or two of these on hand can greatly decrease your chances of reducing infection transmission. According to the CDC, the different types of protective equipment are:
- Eye protection
- Hearing protection
- Protective clothing
These all play a part in limiting the risk of being exposed to hazardous materials or pathogens. When it comes to protecting yourself from the latter, especially when performing CPR and other medical procedures, the key items to use are:
- A medical mask
- Latex gloves
- A gown
- A face shield
How Long Can You Wear a Mask?
Medical masks made for protection against aerosols, such as the N95s, are one of the strongest barriers against all kinds of particles. Disposable procedure masks can also get the job done just as well. When performing CPR without the need for rescue breaths, the former can be worn for long hours (until they become dirty), but the latter should be disposed of after the procedure.
How Often Should You Dispose of Gloves?
Latex medical gloves should be removed between procedures. In this case, you should carefully dispose of them after performing CPR. You must also disinfect your hands afterward in case of contact with germs on said gloves.
This item cannot be used more than once, and you should have it changed when switching patients or individuals you assist.
How Effective Is a Face Shield by Itself?
Face shields are quite effective at keeping most aerosols and pathogens away. Research shows that 0.9% of aerosols reach the host through the face shield. It is far more effective to wear both a mask and a face shield for better results.
The Different Types of Isolation Precautions
Barriers used to protect people from germs and pathogens are called isolation precautions. These come in different categories depending on what the situation calls for. Among them, the better-known ones are the universal and standard precautions.
They also imply that any patient or individual in need of medical interventions such as CPR should be kept isolated and away from other people. Unless absolutely necessary, it is best to limit how many people can assist during such a procedure. This is both for the safety of the individual CPR is performed on and for you yourself to have fewer distractions.
Universal Precautions After Performing CPR and Avoiding Pathogens
Universal precautions refer to effective barriers against infection transmission that are acknowledged universally. These include the PPE mentioned previously, such as masks, gloves, gowns, and eyewear used for protection.
They are made to be used as supplementary protection against pathogens alongside proper disinfection procedures.
Standard Precautions as Stated by the CDC
These precautions are considered the primary on how to stay safe from pathogens when performing CPR so you can stop the spread of bacteria and maintain infection control. They are the bare minimum practices you can do and must be applied to all procedures and patient care. They include:
- Proper hand hygiene
- Using personal protective equipment
- Respiratory hygiene
- Sharps safety
- Sterile devices and instruments
- Sterile and disinfectant area
To ensure no bacteria or pathogens can spread to you after CPR, it is important that you thoroughly wash your hands and wear a face mask to keep particles from entering. Additionally, you must ensure that even if you cannot control where you must perform CPR, your devices for ventilation are kept clean.
After the given CPR, dispose of any gloves or other disposable items, and once more, wash your hands with disinfectant. This is to prevent contact with pathogens that might be on those items.
How To Disinfect Your Hands Properly
To ensure your hands are thoroughly clean after performing CPR, you have to wash them carefully in warm water with soap. This method is more for when your hands are visibly dirty or soiled, but otherwise, you can also disinfect them using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
To Summarize How To Stay Safe From Pathogens During CPR
CPR Certification is an important certification for a medical procedure used to save lives, so certain precautions and procedures must be followed no matter where you are. This is because pathogens can be easily spread from the patient to yourself without the proper hygiene and equipment to prevent it.
Standard and universal precautions have been put in place so that you know how to stay safe from pathogens when performing CPR and other procedures. Follow them, and you should remain protected from any chance of pathogen transmission when using this life-saving technique.