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How do you deal with death after giving CPR?

Dealing with death after giving cpr

Did you know that, globally, less than 3% of individuals who receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) outside of a hospital setting survive to be discharged? This is a reminder of the challenging odds faced by administering life-saving measures. Confronting death after giving CPR can be disturbing. From acknowledging your feelings to seeking community support, let us learn more about post-CPR grief. Let us understand the ways of dealing with death after giving CPR.

What is the CPR success rate?

The overall survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is around 10%. However, survival rates can improve if bystander CPR is started immediately. CPR must begin as soon as possible because delay is critical to survival. For instance, if CPR begins within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, then there is a much greater chance that normal heart function can be restored. In addition, different types of bystander assistance and the presence or absence of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) also affect these varied success rates.

CPR is an indispensable skill and can save lives, even if the success rate varies. Efforts to raise public awareness increase the availability of AEDs, and shorten response times that makes CPR an effective tool in real-world settings.

What if CPR failed?

Despite the best efforts of rescuers, there are several reasons why CPR fails. Learn the most common reason for CPR to be unsuccessful:

  • Underlying Health Conditions: The most common reason CPR is unsuccessful is because of some underlying health conditions. In some cases, the patient suffering cardiac arrest has such serious health problems that makes resuscitation difficult.
  • Delayed Response: The more time passes, the lesser the chance of survival. The restoration of blood flow and oxygen supply to vital organs is critical, so early intervention is essential.
  • Nature of Cardiac Arrest: The cause of cardiac arrest is a crucial factor. You should not administer CPR during severe heart damage or irreversible injuries.
  • Availability of Advanced Medical Care: Access to advanced medical interventions, including defibrillation and medications, is crucial for achieving good outcomes. Late entry into advanced care means a lower survival rate.

Read More: 10 Ways To Find The Best CPR Classes Near Me

How to Deal with Death After Giving CPR?

The after-effects of unsuccessful CPR are hard to deal with emotionally and mentally, leading one to ponder how best to cope—legally or otherwise. Besides the medical issues, people concerned with failed resuscitation attempts also need to deal with issues that include grief and complex laws. Keep reading to know what to do after CPR fails. 

  • Acknowledge and Process Grief: Those who try CPR on the death of a person should accept and sort out their grief. One must also admit that no matter how well-intentioned you are or what actions you take, resuscitation is not always successful. Expressing feelings in a safe place such as to friends, family members, or mental health professionals can provide support to let the emotions out.
  • Seek professional counseling: After a failed CPR attempt, professional counseling can assist individuals in dealing with the psychological problems that arise. A trained counselor can guide a person through the grieving process, suggesting methods for dealing with emotion and providing an encouraging place to talk about what has happened. It is a positive move to secure prompt psychological assistance in preserving one’s mental health.
  • Understand Legal Liability: In the event of unsuccessful CPR, there may be worries about legal responsibility. One needs to know that, in most jurisdictions, people who perform CPR reasonably and within their training are under the protection of Good Samaritan laws. However, consulting a lawyer and learning local laws can clarify whether there are any legal consequences of the relationship, giving some peace of mind to participants.
  • Participate in post-event debriefings: These discussions offer a chance to air grievances, clarify the confusion and complications involved, and get some help in coping with the emotional fallout. Communication with healthcare providers can help patients deal with the mental health complexities that result from failed resuscitation.

Read More: Online CPR Training vs. Local CPR Training


Navigating dealing with death after giving CPR requires a balance of acknowledgment and professional support. Coping with death after giving CPR requires recognizing the limitations of intervention and embracing the process better. This helps address mental health needs and fosters resilience, helping individuals navigate the complexities of the process for improved living.