This television segment about new American Heart Association guidelines recommending compression-only CPR for observed adult cardiac arrest explains the new recommendations plainly. It also provides the essential caveats–which populations and circumstances for which the compression-only technique should not be used.
Ways the report could have been improved:
This segment also illustrates an important point about uses of different journalistic media. By demonstrating that the news anchor is quickly able to apply the technique, the segment makes clear both how it’s done and how easy it is to do.
Producers should note that while television makes some kinds of health reporting more difficult–stories that require interpretation of statistics, for example–its strengths should be taken advantage of whenever possible.
A final related point: A broadcast television health news report should include a note that more information is available on a related website. This was a missed opportunity in this segment.
Cost is not associated with this treatment.
The segment fails to report the percentage of the targeted population that survives witnessed sudden cardiac arrest with either of the methods of CPR.
In none of the studies, using various outcome measures, does survival exceed 20 percent. Viewers should know this.
The American Heart Assocation recommendations and the Circulation report provide contraindications for compression-only CPR, which the segment properly notes.
The report and recommendations cite no other risks of compression-only CPR. The published study cites the possibility that some unidentified subgroup of patients may benefit from traditional CPR, but says no research has demonstrated this.
Rib fractures are a potential harm, and the story could have mentioned this. Nonetheless, we’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt on this criterion.
The story does not mention the quality of the evidence. The story simply says "Studies have shown the survival rate between these two methods is about the same" without mentioning the strength of the evidence (observational studies and not randomized trials).The report is based on new American Heart Association guidelines about compression-only CPR, which in turn are based on an analysis of recent research published in the AHA medical journal Circulation. The story could have at least referred viewers to a CBS or AHA website for more information about the evidence.
The segment does nothing to exaggerate the frequency or severity of sudden cardiac arrest.
The medical correspondent cites no sources aside from the AHA recommendations. At least one independent expert should have been consulted.
The segment makes clear that the two treatment options for observed adult cardiac arrest are conventional CPR and compression-only CPR.
Hands-only CPR is implictly available anywhere.
By mentioning that previous research has found the technique as effective as traditional CPR, the segment implies it is not novel. This meets the minimum standards for a satisfactory rating for this criterion.
The story would have been stronger, however, if it had mentioned that the most recent guidelines indicated compression-only CPR is an acceptable option, and that some medical experts have been urging this switch in recommendations for over a decade.
Nonetheless, we’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt on this criterion.
We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release. No expert is interviewed. And no direct reference was made to the research published in the AHA journal Circulation. So the story may have relied largely on a news release. Or it may not. We can’t judge.