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Stanford University School of Medicine

Take-home kit helps at-risk kids’ families learn CPR skills

Parents of children with complex medical conditions have a lot to worry about when they come home from the hospital. They may need to give their children several medications, manage medical equipment such as a respirator or oxygen tank, and schedule outpatient checkups, treatments or procedures.

On top of day-to-day concerns, these moms and dads must also be ready to deal with emergencies. Kids with severe or chronic medical problems are at higher risk for cardiac arrest than other children, so it's especially important for their parents to learn CPR. But in the past, it's been hard to find a consistent way to deliver CPR skills to families in the hospital. The traditional method of having a nurse instruct parents in CPR can be hard for hospital staff to schedule, and suffers from the fact that not all nurses are equally comfortable teaching CPR.

Researchers at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital tested a different approach. They gave families a CPR self-instruction kit that includes a video and manikin; the kit, called CPR AnytimeTM, is endorsed by the American Heart Association. Each family watched the video and practiced CPR while still in the hospital. Then, when their child was discharged, the parents took the kit home and were encouraged to review it again.

The kits were a great success – 82 percent of parents watched the video at least once after leaving the hospital, and 79 percent shared them with at least two other family members or friends. Parents reported confidence in their CPR skills, and nurses appreciated knowing that each family got consistent training that could be reviewed as needed.

From our press release about the study, which appears today in the Journal of Healthcare Quality:

"Parents felt empowered," said senior author Lynda Knight, RN. "It allowed them to feel relieved that they would know what to do if something ever happened and their child required CPR after they left the hospital."

If a child's breathing stops and his or her heart rate drops, prompt CPR can improve survival and prevent neurologic problems caused by oxygen deprivation, Knight said. But it usually takes 7 to 10 minutes for paramedics to arrive after a 911 call, a dangerously long time for the brain to go without oxygen, so it's important for parents to initiate CPR prior to paramedics' arrival.

Previously: “Don’t just stand there:” Rap song teaches CPR to teens
Photo of CPR Anytime kit courtesy of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

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