Emergency Planning

Can you tell me about the “new” CPR?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I thought CPR involved chest compressions, breathing into a person's mouth and checking their pulse. But my daughter told me that the "new" CPR involves only chest compressions. Is this correct?

DEAR READER: That's right. Since 2008, the American Heart Association has recommended "hands only" cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if an adult suddenly collapses.

What does it mean when someone “goes into shock”?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What does it mean when someone "goes into shock"?

DEAR READER: Shock occurs when there is not enough blood flowing through the body to supply the oxygen and nutrients your cells need to survive. People who go into shock can develop organ damage -- or even die -- if the condition is not treated promptly.

What are a living will and a health-care power of attorney?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What are a living will and a health-care power of attorney?

DEAR READER: A living will and a health-care power of attorney are both types of advance directives -- written, legally binding documents. They allow you to describe what kind of medical care you hope to receive if an accident or illness renders you unable to communicate. The biggest misunderstanding I've seen in my patients is that only the elderly or very ill people need advance directives. That's definitely not the case.

Are urgent care centers and emergency rooms the same?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What are urgent care centers? Are they the same as emergency rooms?

DEAR READER: They definitely are not the same. Emergency rooms are for true emergencies -- even though many people go to emergency rooms for quite minor problems. Typically, emergency rooms are attached to hospitals, because patients with true emergencies usually need to be hospitalized after their treatment in the emergency room.