The jaw thrust maneuver vs. the head-tilt-chin-lift when trying to give CPR breaths
What do you do if you suspect a head/ spine injury, and you need to do CPR? First and foremost, make sure you do effective CPR!
Remember, the jaw thrust maneuver is a highly skilled maneuver that should only be done by well trained healthcare providers that can do it correctly the first time.
“If the victim has a head or neck injury and you suspect a spine injury, 2 rescuers may use another method to open the airway: a jaw thrust (Figure 14). Two people perform a jaw thrust while holding the neck still and giving bag-mask ventilation. If the jaw thrust does not open the airway, use a head tilt-chin lift.” (reference: page 17 of the AHA student manual “BLS for Healthcare Providers”)
(The jaw-thrust skill is not taught in the AHA CPR course, but it is in the student healthcare provider textbook.)
“Why don’t the lay rescuer courses teach jaw thrusts? It’s difficult for lay rescuers to open the airway with a jaw thrust. To make sure that the lay rescuer can open the airway, only head tilt-chin lift is taught. In addition, all methods of opening the airway can produce movement of an injured spine, so the jaw thrust may not be any safer than head tilt-chin lift.” (Reference: CPR FAQs from the AHA Instructor Network)
In conclusion, non-healthcare providers should stick with the head-tilt-chin-lift when there is a suspected head/ spine injury; healthcare providers should only attempt the jaw-thrust maneuver during CPR if he or she is well-trained in it, especially since the skill is not taught in the course but is only in the student AHA textbook.
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