Should veterinary professionals be having more frequent CPR training?

02 June 2022
8 mins read
Volume 13 · Issue 5
Figure 1. Scenario set-up for a mock code.


This literature review critically analyses papers on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, the studies suggest frequent training or retraining can help with CPR; the evidence of medical professionals in various roles and environments shows that regular training for staff can help with skills and knowledge retention. This training also demonstrates that there can be improvement in chest compression depth and efficiency as well as better response times of staff to a cardiopulmonary arrest. Each paper looks at how long skills are retained for as well as how often training should be undertaken, two comparing 3-month, 6-month or annual training to determine which is best. The studies indicate a knowledge gap in the need for CPR training in veterinary medicine.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is performed when patients experience cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA). In veterinary medicine this is something that has to be performed on a variety of species and sizes of animals. In a survey, it was found that 1.6–6% of dogs and 2.3–9.6% of cats in a veterinary hospital survived CPA to discharge, this is significantly lower compared with 24% of adult human survival to discharge with in-hospital CPA (Gillespie et al, 2019). This review on CPR training discusses research and studies in human medicine as there are currently no studies within veterinary medicine on how frequently CPR training should be undertaken. This suggests there is a knowledge gap within veterinary medicine. Retaining skills and knowledge of CPR are important to patient outcome, and the research in human medicine on skill retention and human intervention is likely to also be relevant to veterinary medicine.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skill performance can be measured using a manikin (Mokhtari Nori et al, 2012); in Mokhtari Nori's (2012) study CPR skill retention of hospital staff was measured. Participants were provided 100 minutes of practical training exercises with the manikin, and a CPR skills checklist was used to assess the psychomotor skills of participants. The checklist used was approved by the Irish Heart Association (2000) as a valid CPR skill assessment. The checklist analysed chest compression depth, rate and recoil as well as looking at defibrillator use. The statistics of the psychomotor skills showed a large increase in ability after training; before training 18.7% of 112 participants scored success rates in psychomotor skills, compared with 82.50% 10 weeks after training. Although this study showed the ability of participants to perform CPR increased following training, it did not specify when participants previously had training in CPR. Psychomotor skills were tested again 2 years post training with 42 of the participants taking part. These results showed that 36.81% retained CPR skills — the sample size for this part of the study is smaller than previously, which may have affected the results.

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