It’s been almost 5 years since the rules of CPR changed significantly.
Potential changes are scheduled for October 2010, but now is the time to think about them to avoid budget and training headaches for 2011. Many of you were caught by surprise in November 2005. Fortunately, we’ve learned a lot of lessons since then. We thought we’d share with you some things to keep in mind to make the transition to CPR “Guidelines 2010” easier.
What is “Guidelines 2010” anyway?
The “rules” for CPR are decided by the members of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) based on the latest research it receives. Once ILCOR members digest and debate the latest clinical studies and agree to the most effective CPR protocols and Emergency Cardiac Care treatment, they release the new “Guidelines.” CPR rules issued in 2005 were called “Guidelines 2005.” This is the current curriculum CPR instructors use to teach and certify you in CPR. The next iteration will be called “Guidelines 2010,” scheduled for release in October 2010. You can expect to learn and perform CPR under these rules until Guidelines 2015 become effective–yes, they usually change every 5 years or so.
Does anyone know what the proposed changes are going to be in October 2010?
Besides the ILCOR members who are “sworn to secrecy,” no one knows. Members are not permitted to share information until the Guidelines are finalized. The changes could be significant, or they may result in nothing new at all. There’s a lot of speculation among medical professionals, but that’s all it is. If you’re a CPR instructor and you want to join the CPR Guidelines 2010 “release party” in Chicago, sign up for the conference here.
Is compliance with Guidelines 2010 mandatory or voluntary?
Both, but we’ll explain using Guidelines 2005 as an example.
When Guidelines 2010 is unleashed into the world, there’ll be an adjustment period, but eventually all instructors will teach only the new CPR method. That makes the curriculum mandatory for you. Since the FDA is usually silent on the matter, and ILCOR is not an enforcement agency, AED manufacturers consider device upgrades to be voluntary. And since they’re voluntary, AED manufacturers don’t have to give away upgrades for free–thay can and often charge for them. Our take is that your CPR training and AED software should work together under the same set of rules, so the AED upgrade becomes “unofficially” mandatory anyway.
So how do changes in CPR Guidelines affect me, my colleagues or my company?
If Guidelines 2010 don’t require any meaningful changes in CPR, then the effect to all of us could be minimal. If the changes are significant, you’ll have a lot to think about. Past changes in CPR Guidelines created logistical and budgetary nightmares for some. Let’s go through the things you should consider to prevent a replay of the stress of 2005:
The new Guidelines may change the rules of CPR as we know them. It could mean a change in the number of compressions you perform on a patient, a change in ventilations or changes in automated external defibrillator (AED) use or shock protocols. If any of that happens, then CPR training will change accordingly. And it means it will take months for CPR training organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross to update their training books and videos. You can expect that the CPR training curriculum won’t catch up with Guidelines 2010 until sometime in 2011! You may choose to be retrained as soon as Guidelines 2010 becomes effective or you can wait until your next recertification is due.
Voice, text or video prompts of your AED should match the current CPR Guidelines. Since AED manufacturers get no more advanced notice of new Guidelines than you do, expect any available software upgrades to take months, too.
A problem may happen when you become certified in the Guidelines 2010 method of CPR, but your AED behaves old school–like Guidelines 2005. What do you do? In the past we heard suggestions that ran from the ridiculous to the brilliant. An example of a ridiculous–and even unsafe–recommendation was to take your AED out of service until it was reprogrammed to the new Guidelines. Another emergency suggestion was to connect your AED to the patient, but then turn the device off after the first shock or simply ignore the voice prompts from there. Both ideas usually came from well-intentioned, but misinformed, sources. Eventually the American Heart Association issued a letter with clear advice (which we’ll paraphrase); Keep your life-saving AED in service regardless of Guidelines! In the event of an emergency use the AED and follow the voice prompts to keep things simple. An AED that works the “old” way is better than none at all. We believe the advice will be the same for 2010.
That leads us to your task of upgrading AEDs. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do for most models. Unfortunately, the cost is unknown so set some funds aside just in case. In 2005 a few upgrades were free; most other AEDs were upgradeable for under $100 each, but two lines of devices set owners back about $280 each. The amount of change in Guidelines 2010 will determine if your AEDs need to be reprogrammed at all. Our sister site www.AEDUpgrades.com will keep you informed. Be sure to bookmark it and check it often.
CPR manikins shouldn’t be a problem for CPR instructors. In most instances there’s nothing to update. But AED training units are a different story. Again, depending on the level of change, some training units may become obsolete, some can be upgraded, or some pre-programmed scenarios within your training unit may become invalid. Our AEDUpgrades site becomes your best source of information on those upgrades as Guidelines 2010 rolls out.
What is the Guidelines 2010 speculation going around?
Remember, it’s all speculation. Our guess is compressions are the focus–especially since “hands-only” CPR was popularized right around 2008. It wouldn’t surprise us if the ratio of compressions to ventilation is at least revised. But don’t hang up your CPR mask yet…like everyone else we can’t wait to find out ourselves!
In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted on changes as we hear them!