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CPR Training and Use
Aug 8, 2002

Today I went to do CPR training with the American Red Cross as a requirement to renew my teaching credential.

I was concerned to see that in the opening section of their training manual, they state that people who are HIV + should request a separate training manakin.

Why do they ask this? HIV is not passed through saliva as far as I know.

Secondly, if I face a situation where I might need to deliver CPR, should I? Do good samaritan laws protect HIV + people delivering the procedure?


Response from Ms. Breuer

Ah, the irrationality of the mannikin issue. I'll seek to answer this one with what I believe is the inner logic, but do not construe my answer as Red Cross policy. I do not speak for the Red Cross or represent their policies, and I disagree with the advice in the manual. I believe it's there because they don't want people refusing to take CPR training out of fear of having to share a mannikin with someone with HIV.

The separate mannikin is, of course, completely unnecessary. HIV is not transmitted through saliva. Go with your own blend of conscience and logic on this one.

As to delivering CPR, you would be at far more risk from the injury victim than anyone would be from you. Here's my recommendation on actually doing CPR as a person with HIV. If there is blood around the mouth, take EVERY precaution to protect yourself from that blood. You cannot afford reinfection or exposure to hepatitis B or C. You don't pose any more risk to that person as a rescuer than you pose to the mannikin.

Good Samaritan laws function this way: if you save someone's life doing CPR and accidentally crack a rib while you're doing it, and the person is enough of a crank to sue you, the judge is highly likely to throw out the case if you performed within the limits of what you have been taught and certified to do. In short, if you did CPR, you will be fine. If you attempted a tracheotomy and killed the patient because you forgot to go to med school first, you are unlikely to be covered by Good Samaritan laws. Makes sense?

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