Managing vomit during CPR

Managing vomit during CPR: Essential safety practices for effective response

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique used in emergencies where someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. While CPR can be a clean and straightforward procedure, complications such as the presence of vomit can make it challenging and potentially hazardous. In this blog, Rose explores the critical aspects of managing vomit during CPR, ensuring safety and effectiveness in these crucial moments.

Key facts and statistics

Vomit during CPR can pose significant health risks to the rescuer, including the transmission of infectious diseases. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines, over 30% of rescuers are exposed to bodily fluids during emergency responses, underscoring the need for proper training and precautions.

Key definitions

  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a manual emergency procedure involving chest compressions, often combined with artificial ventilation, that aims to preserve intact brain function manually.
  • Aspiration - Inhalation of stomach contents into the lungs, which can occur if vomit is not effectively managed during CPR.

Relevant legislation and regulations

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers are required to ensure the safety and health of their workforce, which includes proper training in handling potential hazards like vomit during CPR. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) further mandates that employers assess risks from biological agents and ensure control measures are in place to protect workers.

Best practices

The Resuscitation Council (UK) and the British Red Cross recommend the following best practices for managing vomit during CPR:

  • Prevention - Whenever possible, clear the airway before initiating CPR to minimise the risk of vomiting.
  • Protection - Use barrier devices, such as face shields or masks, to protect against exposure to vomit.
  • Procedure - If the patient vomits, turn their head to the side to clear the airway, ensuring that the vomit can drain away and not back into the lungs or mouth.

Recommendations for effective management

  • Training - Ensure that all potential CPR responders are trained to handle vomiting incidents, including the use of protective equipment and safe airway management techniques.
  • Equipment - Provide adequate supplies of protective gear and barrier devices in areas identified as high-risk for cardiac emergencies.
  • Policy development - Develop and implement clear policies that outline the procedures for managing vomiting during CPR, aligned with the latest health and safety legislation.


Managing vomit during CPR is critical to ensuring the procedure's safety and effectiveness. By adhering to legal frameworks, adopting best practices, and ensuring all personnel are adequately trained, organisations can safeguard both the responder and the patient. Effective management of such complications aligns with health and safety regulations and enhances the overall success of emergency responses.

Click here to explore our CPR online training courses and ensure your team is prepared to handle any emergency with confidence and safety.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

Managing vomit during CPR: Essential safety practices for effective response - ComplyPlus LMS™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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