How should a patient be positioned for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Catharine A Bon, MD; Chief Editor: Kirsten A Bechtel, MD  more...
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CPR is most easily and effectively performed by laying the patient supine on a relatively hard surface, which allows effective compression of the sternum. Delivery of CPR on a mattress or other soft material is generally less effective.

The health care provider giving compressions should be positioned high enough above the patient to achieve sufficient leverage, so that he or she can use body weight to adequately compress the chest (see the video below).

CPR positioning. Video courtesy of Daniel Herzberg, 2008.

In the hospital setting, where patients are in gurneys or beds, appropriate positioning is often achieved by lowering the bed, having the CPR provider stand on a step-stool, or both. In the out-of-hospital setting, the patient is often positioned on the floor, with the CPR provider kneeling over him or her.

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