YouTube can do many things, but a new study says saving lives is probably not one of them.

A new study has shown that just a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide useful instructions.

The study, published in the journal for the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM), reviewed educational YouTube videos from the last three years that came up when the search terms “CPR”, “cardiopulmonary resuscitation”, “BLS” and “basic life support” were entered.

Of the many thousands of videos produced by these search results, most were excluded for being irrelevant, recorded in languages other than English or inhibited by advertisements.

In the end a total of 209 videos were analysed.

Only 11.5% of the analysed videos were found to be compatible with 2010 CPR guidelines, with regard to sequence of interviews.

“Although well-designed videos can create awareness and be useful as tools in training, they can never replace hands-on instruction from a properly qualified health practitioner,” said Associate Professor Paul Middleton, Fellow of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) and Chair of the Australian Resuscitation Council NSW.

“People wanting to learn CPR and BLS skills should seek out a properly accredited training course.”

Professor Middleton indicated that a few videos were available via YouTube which provided generally competent educational advice on how to perform CPR and basic life support, but finding them is not easy and very few could be regarded as ‘perfect’ for teaching basic life support and CPR.