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Hands-only CPR gains approval from Heart Association

Rating

4 Star

Hands-only CPR gains approval from Heart Association

Our Review Summary

This story succinctly conveys the important key messages of a new guideline issued by the American Heart Association on bystander use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It quotes three sources, including a spokesperson for the local Red Cross—who, interestingly, fails to provide a wholehearted endorsement for the new hands-only recommendations. The story misses an opportunity to explore this contrary view: Is it rooted in the quality of the evidence to support the new guideline, or something else? It’s important that news reports take a critical look at the quality of the evidence behind new scientific recommendations, regardless of the prestige of the medical authority behind them. The story also feels thin when it comes to quantifying the benefit of hands-only CPR. It cites the AHA guideline, saying bystander CPR “can double or triple a person’s chances of survival.” However, it doesn’t say what the current rate of survival is, or offer an explanation of how many people might be saved if more bystanders performed hands-only CPR. The answers to these questions would require futher digging beyond the AHA guideline, reporting within the scope of this article.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The news story does not mention costs, but a discussion of cost is relatively unimportant in the context of this issue.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story cites the AHA guideline, saying bystander CPR “can double or triple a person’s chances of survival.” However, it doesn’t say what the current rate of survival is (quite low), or offer an explanation of how many people might be saved if more bystanders helped with hands-only CPR. The answers to these questions would require futher digging beyond the AHA guideline, reporting within the scope of this article. A doubling or tripling of a low rate is still a very small absolute number.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story implies that hands-only CPR can be harmful (“people … fear that they’ll hurt the person or be sued…"). The main physical harm is occasional fractured ribs caused by vigorous compressions, though the story doesn’t make this explicit. The story explains that bystanders are protected from lawsuits by Good Samaritan laws.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story notes that “three large studies” published in 2007 support the American Heart Association’s new, hands-only CPR recommendations. However, it doesn’t describe the nature or quality of these studies. All are observational studies that compare survival after bystanders’ use of hand-only vs. standard CPR. The story does not mention their inherent limitations (e.g., they are not randomized and don’t take into account the quality or training of the bystanders).

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not overplay or hype the importance of sudden cardiac collapse. It notes that less than a third of bystanders perform CPR, and that hands-only CPR might improve this rate.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story cites three sources, including two who appear to be independent of the CPR research or the AHA guideline. One source, a spokesperson for the regional office of the American Red Cross, provides a contrary view to the others.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story notes that the primary alternative to hands-only CPR is standard CPR with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. It does not meniton other options, which include care provided by emergency medical personnel, automated external defibrillators, and hospital medical staff.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story makes it clear that hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is something almost anyone can do, requiring no special drugs or equipment or even training.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story mentions a “previous version” of the guidelines and refers to the current guidelines as an “update.”

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Several sources are used; does not appear to rely solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 7 of 9 Satisfactory

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