Clinical Notes : Resuscitation

Common CPR errors



Keep those arms as straight as possible.

Arm muscles tire a lot more quickly than your body weight.

Keeping the arms straight helps body weight drive the compression down and maintain proper depth.



The rescuer's hands need to stay in contact with the patient's chest during compressions.

Avoid being a bouncer by maintaining hand contact with the chest wall.

Remember to avoid "leaning" on the victim.



Rockers compress from the side of the victim.

However, in the correct position, the rescuer's shoulders are up over the patient.

That position ensures compressions are going straight down and the heart is squeezed between the sternum and the spine.



Do not 'criss-cross' your hands.

To maximize the force of compressions, the rescuer's hands need to be straight over each other.



The force of compression is driven through the heel of the hand.

Massagers point their fingers down, producing more of a massaging action and less compression.

Another hand error is when rescuers bend the fingers of both hands.

The fingers need to be interlaced or one hand on top of the other with fingers extended off the patient's chest


Full recoil of the chest is as important as the depth and rate of chest compressions.

Some rescuers will lean on the chest a bit between compressions, especially as fatigue takes hold. 

In the picture we see the manikin's chest is not fully expanded between the compression.

Leaning or keeping even a little bit of pressure on the chest between each compression will seriously reduce the effectiveness of CPR.

The rescuer needs to take his or her full weight off the patient’s chest between each compression so the chest fully recoils.

Lousy Dancer


Stay on the beat!

It's at least 100 compressions per minute.

Come on, everyone knows Stayin’ Alive.

Keep in mind there is a sweet spot for CPR.

Studies have shown that rates over 120 beats per minute do not give the heart time to passively refill between each compression. 

Aim to deliver between 100 and 120 compressions per minute



Most rescuers don’t compress hard enough.

Without proper depth, compressions are not effective.

Aim to achieve a compression depth of achieve at least

5 cm ((2 inches).



A lot of people talk their way through the actions.

They let you know every thought in their heads. However, they need to take the actions, not talk them.
Limit conversation to what is necessary,

e.g. when reaching completion of a set of compression, indicating to second rescuer it is time to deliver rescue breaths,

or when circumstances have changed and new actions are required.


9 CPR Training Errors

EMS Safety - Teaching Skills For Life


Guidelines for CPR & Emergency Cardiovascular Care

American Heart Association

Updated November 2017


Highlights of the 2015 American Heart Association Guidelines Updates for CPR and ECC



Resuscitation Council; UK

Adult basic life support and automated external defibrillation


ERC Guidelines 2015

European Resuscitation Council