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CPR – Is the kiss of life actually the kiss of death?

We’ve seen it a thousand times on hospital-themed TV shows.  A desperately ill person is practically dead — no pulse, not breathing – when a team of heroic and good-looking doctors busts into the room and resuscitates the patient in a frenzy of action and jargon.  Happy ending insured.

But the reality of resuscitation is very different, according to a Huffington Post piece by Dr. Kristine Scruggs.  Resuscitation (basically elaborate CPR) has a low success rate — just 30% in a healthy young person, much lower for elderly or seriously ill patients.  What’s more, resuscitation doesn’t reverse the neurological and organ damage that may have occurred while the body was shutdown.  Many a patient has been resuscitated only to live months or years in a diminished state that required expensive care.

This is one more reason to take time to communicate your end-of-life wishes with family, including what steps you want taken to keep you alive.  Making a written plan and sharing it with loved ones will save them the pain of making brutally hard decisions, and give you a bit of control over how you exit this world.

A Five Wishes form can help you solidify your medical wishes.  Put that on this weekend’s to-do list.

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