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It's extremely rare for bystander CPR to cause serious harm to victims who are eventually found not to be in cardiac arrest. If you are delivering CPR, the person is dead, so no real further harm can occur. Where CPR is successful, the patient may sustain rib or sternal fractures, and damage to the internal organs can occur, but this is rare. The balance of benefits from bystander CPR far outweighs the risks. CPR providers should not, therefore, be reluctant to start CPR because of concerns about causing harm to the patient. CPR delivery does pose an infection risk and standard precautions should be taken, but there is very low risk if there are no body fluids. Although rare, occurrences of muscle strain, back symptoms or shortness of breath, hyperventilation, pneumothorax, chest pain, myocardial infarction and nerve injury have been described in rescuers, the instances of these events are extremely low. CPR is hard work and care should be taken if you are getting tired. The easiest solution is to hand it over to a second rescuer.

Learners and CPR providers who develop significant symptoms, for example, chest pain or severe shortness of breath during CPR training, should be advised to stop and seek medical attention. Although injury to the CPR provider from a defibrillator shock is extremely rare, standard surgical or clinical gloves do not give adequate electrical protection. CPR providers should therefore not continue manual chest compressions during shock delivery. Avoid direct contact between the CPR provider and the victim when defibrillation is performed. Some patients may have implantable cardioverter-defibrillators or ICDs, which could discharge without warning during CPR, and rescuers may therefore be in contact with the patient when this occurs. However, the electrical current reaching the rescuer from ICDs is minimal and the harm to the rescuer is unlikely. Adverse psychological effects after performing CPR are relatively rare. If symptoms do occur, the CPR provider should consult their general practitioner.