Did you know these situations when you do not perform CPR?

CPR is a life-saving technique, performed when the victim is not breathing and the heart stops beating. This mainly happens during a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), choking or near drowning. In situations like these our focus always remains on when to give CPR, because the sooner it starts, the better. 

We must also learn the situations when we do not have to perform CPR. Generally, CPR is highly effective. However, there might be scenarios where the responders need advanced medical help. At certain medical conditions, the patient’s recovery becomes hard to speed up with only CPR. Read the general criteria below for identifying situations when performing CPR is not the right solution to save a life.

When To Stop Performing CPR?

The victim starts breathing normally again:

It is uncertain that a CPR process will facilitate the victim’s heart to beat again. However, while performing CPR if the victim starts to breathe normally then you should stop performing it.Though every case is different. In most cases of choking and drowning the victim breathes regularly with the standard CPR.

Availability of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED):

If an AED is at the scene of an emergency, it should be set up immediately. While doing so, you can stop performing CPR. After that, you have to follow the inbuilt prompts given by the AED. 

Lay-responder experiences fatigues:

Chest compressions during a CPR process are physically demanding. Thus, a lay-responder can experience fatigue and feel physically exhausted. So, you may have to stop performing CPR. You should call for extra help during such times.

Victim is traumatized:

A panic situation arises during a medical emergency. Moreover, the victim facing it is mentally and emotionally drained out and traumatized on experiencing a CPR process being performed on him. In situations like this, it is recommended to stop performing CPR.

Medical practitioner instructs to stop CPR:

Going with the instructions and advice of the medical practitioner, you should stop performing CPR on the victim as the further medical process is carried out by the medical practitioner.

Victim has not been attended to for a longer span of time:

In some situations, there is a possibility that for 30 minutes or more, the victim has been on first aid, BLS and CPR. You are experiencing a delay in the EMS or Paramedics arriving at the scene of emergency, to perform ALS. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you stop performing the CPR. 

The scene becomes a matter of concern:

Several factors could lead to the scene of an emergency turning hazardous. A natural disaster or a civil unrest, downpour could be coming in the way of the CPR rescue process. 

What is the criteria for not performing CPR? 

Universal approach is to stop CPR after 20 minutes, typically when the victim shows signs of normal breathing. 

Should you perform CPR when there is no heartbeat?

If pulse cannot be detected and there is no breathing for 10 seconds, it is suggested to begin with 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths.


Determining when to perform and not perform CPR is extremely important. Summing up that a CPR should be withheld when –  

  1. A victim breathing normally 
  2. Showing signs of life
  3. AED is available for usage
  4. Lay-responder is exhausted
  5. Scene of emergency becomes unsafe 

A medical situation is tricky to tackle, therefore it’s suggested that a good know-how is a value-add. CPR is a life-saving process and learning about it in detail is recommended. There are several online CPR courses available. The American Healthcare Academy offers a myriad of courses on CPR, there are combination courses too in the offing. They follow updated AHA guidelines with step-by-step video lessons.