Reluctance of Internists and Medical Nurses to Perform Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation

Barry E. Brenner, MD, PhD; Jane Kauffman, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(15):1763-1769. doi:10.1001/archinte.1993.00410150041004.
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Background:  Physicians and nurses constitute a major part of citizen cardiopulmonary resuscitation responders and serve as educators and resource personnel concerning cardiopulmonary resuscitation. We decided to determine if fear of infectious disease has dampened physician and nurse response to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (MMR).

Methods:  Four hundred thirty-three internists and one hundred fifty-two medical nurses responded to presentations of mock cardiac arrest scenarios.

Results:  Forty-five percent of the physicians and 80% of the nurses would refuse to do MMR on a stranger. Between 18% and 25% of nurses and attending internists would not do MMR on a child. Being born in the United States or white racial background decreased the reluctance of the respondents to perform MMR. Only 15% of the respondents would do MMR on a stranger in a gay neighborhood. All respondents that would not do MMR stated that their reason involved fear of contracting communicable diseases, especially acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Conclusions:  Internists and medical nurses are highly reluctant to perform MMR. We recommend that the teaching of MMR should emphasize performance on children and family members where willingness to perform MMR is high. We urge public education along with widespread availability of effective barrier masks to resuscitate MMR itself.(Arch Intern Med. 1993;153:1763-1769)


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