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Defibrillator Law

Defibrillator Law

If you haves recently acquired a defibrillator, you may be interested in knowing the laws that govern them. Knowing the law concerning defibrillators will allow you to use AEDs without having to worry about any repercussions that you do not know of. Being ignorant of the laws that relate to defibrillators means that you could be guilty of an offense that you have no idea about. It is important that you remove this possibility by knowing the acts and policies that could have an effect on you owning a defibrillator.

What Are Automated External Defibrillators?

Per the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, one in every 7.4 individuals in the United States could die from sudden cardiac arrest. According to research undertaken by the National Safety Council, increased access to automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) could save up to 40,000 lives each year.

What Are Automated External Defibrillators

AEDs are mandated in public buildings in many states and the federal government, but private corporations have been slower to adapt. Cardiac arrests may be caused by a heart attack, electrocution, or asphyxiation, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Since sudden cardiac arrest can happen at any moment, OSHA advises employers to have AEDs on hand.

Cardiac arrests are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, and they can kill you in minutes. If AEDs are available quickly, they can save lives.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, anybody can use a defibrillator in a public place such as a:

  • Community center
  • School 
  • Government building 
  • At the airport 
  • Hospital

Since lightweight AEDs are easy to mobilize and deploy in the event of an emergency, they are advised to be held in public places where large crowds gather. They are especially useful for treating someone who may be suffering from a sudden cardiac problem or any other ailment that affects their heart due to their ease of use and the fact that they can do no harm when used.

What is the Aviation Medical Assistance Act?

Should you ever find yourself in an airplane, you may have to deal with another passenger who could succumb to a cardiac issue. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, you may be confused as to how to act. The Aviation Medical Assistance Act governs such situations, and you should become familiar with it, especially if you are a physician who flies a lot.

It is important that if you are a physician, that you carry some kind of physician identification with you, as you are not allowed to assist an individual in need if you do not. This is because, in line with the Act, the flight attendants do not allow anyone without this identification to administer any medication or treatment. Should you not have any form of identification, you can apply for a professional photo identification card that includes your name, photo, license number in that particular state, as well as the expiration date of the particular license.

You should also be aware of the fact that medical equipment on a plan is limited. All flights are required by the law to have an automated external defibrillator and emergency medical kits on board. These medical kits contain just the bare minimum of what you may need to treat a minor medical incident; however, it is important that should a person experience any heart rhythm issue, you may be required to use the automated external defibrillator (AED) to save their life.

Should such a medical emergency ever occur while in flight, the pilot should be informed straight away. This allows them to alert the airline’s medical team on the ground. This allows the medical team to be prepared for the medical emergency that they have to deal with as soon as the plane lands. Failure to do so can result in the period between the treatment and cardiac arrest being extended. This increases the likelihood of the person suffering from the emergency not making it in time.

Liability of Medical Treatment on Flights 

Liability is a serious concern when you are not practicing in a regular clinic setting. Physicians who provide in-flight emergency medical assistance are covered by the Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998 as well as the Good Samaritan Laws. It is important to note that you do not have to volunteer in a situation if you do not feel comfortable or fear for your own safety. As a physician, if you have had a few drinks or have recently taken any sedating medication, then you should use your judgment as to whether or not you should respond.

Liability of Medical Treatment on Flights

Should you decide to volunteer, it is important to note that you are not on duty in terms of the 1998 law. You are covered so long as you do not do anything that constitutes gross negligence or misconduct. As a physician, you should consider becoming familiar with the limitations of the law so as to avoid any unforeseen consequences that may not be favorable. The majority of physicians feel a moral obligation to provide assistance in an emergency medical situation, and due to this, can often find themselves in a situation such as this.

When it comes to compensation for assisting in a medical emergency, you are no longer protected from any liability should you decide to accept any form of compensation for the care that you provide. It is important to note that under Good Samaritan Laws should you receive a thank you or flight upgrade voucher, it does not prevent you from being covered. The Aviation Medical Assistance Act does not mention anything in regard to accepting any payments or gifts from an airline; however, if you want to completely avoid any issues, then you should not accept any compensations or rewards at all.

Finally, it is crucial that you document the entire encounter in some way or another. You should get all the information that you need, and can do so by asking the flight attendant to record the vital signs of the person or any other pertinent information during the encounter should you deem it necessary to do so. By documenting it in your medical records when you get home you also ensure that you are completely covered from any unnecessary complications.

Is it a Legal Requirement to Have an AED Defibrillator?

When starting an organization, you may be confused as to whether you are required by law to have one on the premises or not. The truth regarding the matter is that the laws stipulating whether or not you should have an automated external defibrillator (AED) vary from state to state, making giving a straightforward yes or no slightly more complicated. Based on the state that you live in, you may be required to always have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on the premises, whereas in others, you may not be obligated to do so.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States each year, with about 90% of them being fatal. If proper steps—such as performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using an automated external defibrillator (AED)—to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm are not taken immediately, cardiac arrest can result in death within minutes. AEDs, which are simplified and portable electronic medical devices, can be used by trained non-medical professionals to handle a person in cardiac arrest using voice prompts, lights, and text messages to guide the responder through the steps.

Is it a Legal Requirement to Have an AED Defibrillator

According to the National Institutes of Health, 18,000 Americans experience shockable cardiac arrest outside of hospitals and in public with witnesses each year. Bystanders using an AED instead of waiting for emergency care services to shock the heart are expected to save 1,700 lives per year.

When the heart fibrillates or experiences chaotic and irregular electrical activity that causes the heart to quiver uncontrollably, sudden cardiac arrest occurs. While the two conditions are related, this is distinct from a heart attack, which occurs when the blood flow to a portion of the heart muscle is greatly diminished or stopped due to an obstruction. Unlike a heart attack, cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops beating, and a person has only minutes to live if they are not treated. AEDs can help people live longer. According to the American Heart Association, nine out of 10 cardiac arrest patients who experience an AED shock within the first minutes survive.

In 1997, Florida became the first state to enforce a comprehensive public access law, and by 2010, all 50 states had passed legislation or regulations requiring the use of defibrillators. Many states have considered how to encourage more AEDs to be available, including provisions that encourage or mandate AED training, require that maintenance and testing follow manufacturer’s specifications, develop a list of defibrillator locations, provide a “Good Samaritan” exemption from liability, and allow state agencies to assess more comprehensive training requirements. AEDs should be installed in public buildings, transit hubs, apartment buildings, and large offices, according to advocates.

Several states have proposed or passed legislation requiring AEDs to be installed in fitness clubs and gyms, school sporting activities or settings, and other public areas. The AED laws in each state are tracked by third-party tools AED Brands and AED Universe, and you can check them out should you wish to acquire some more information on the subject matter. Summary standards for usage, Good Samaritan security, and a list of laws and regulations are all included in the state profiles. Please notice that the quality of third-party tools is not endorsed by NCSL.

Can You Use an AED Without Training?

Non-medical staff, such as firefighters, police officers, lifeguards, flight attendants, security guards, teachers, family members of high-risk individuals, and spectators, are trained to use AEDs. You are included in this!

In the case of cardiac arrest, everyone may (and should) use an AED (SCA). The aim of AEDs and public access defibrillation services is to provide defibrillation as quickly as possible when it is needed. When paired with AEDs, CPR can significantly boost survival rates in cases of cardiac arrest.

While formal training in the use of an AED is not necessary, it is recommended that you obtain AED and CPR certifications to help you feel more comfortable and confident. AEDs, on the other hand, are meant for use by the general public, whether or not they have undergone advanced training.

There are a number of situations in which you may need to operate an AED such as:

  • An emergency at your place of employment
  • An emergency in a restaurant
  • An emergency at your child’s school

Why is CPR Important if You have an AED?

The aim of an AED is to shock the heart back into a regular rhythm. They aren’t built to keep vital organs supplied with blood. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is a basic first-aid procedure that can keep victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) or other medical emergencies alive until medical assistance arrives.

CPR keeps the body’s blood flowing, which helps vital organs function properly. CPR has two main goals: to keep oxygen circulating into and out of the lungs, as well as to keep oxygenated blood flowing across the body. Coupling CPR with the use of an AED gives the person experiencing the medical emergency the best possible chance at surviving the attack. There are a number of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) that while providing assistance with regards to how to use the AED, also provide help with CPR. They provide you with the necessary steps that you need to follow in order to give the person you are treating the best chance at recovering from a situation in which they require defibrillation with minimal risks of complications.

Can You Be Sued for Using an AED?

People are afraid of being sued for giving first aid to others, but in most situations, an immediate and unwavering response is needed to save a victim’s life. The only effective cure for Sudden Cardiac Arrest is rapid defibrillation, which may mean the difference between life and death. A rapid response is critical: if a person is shocked within sixty seconds, their chances of survival can be as high as 90%, but after that, their chances of survival decrease by 10% per minute.

However, using a defibrillator for the first time can be frightening. As well as the panic of what to do in an emergency situation, you might also have some doubts about where you stand from a legal perspective and whether you can be sued for first aid whether you do it correctly or not. These concerns may cause you to hesitate and lose valuable time. Here we address some common questions and look at where you stand when it comes to the law in the US.

What Can Go Wrong?

It’s incredibly rare that a safe, well-maintained defibrillator would make an error. The unit can analyze and evaluate the victim’s heart rhythm and make all decisions, leading you step by step through the process. It’s hard to shock someone who isn’t suffering a heart attack.

When doing CPR, it’s more likely that you’ll sustain an injury, as broken ribs are common, particularly in the elderly. When you move them into the safe airway position, you risk aggravating their injuries. As opposed to what can happen if you don’t follow the chain of survival for treating a sudden cardiac arrest, these possible concerns are the lesser of two evils. In this case, you cannot be prosecuted for first aid if you are clearly attempting to assist the victim.

As you wait for an AED, make sure the oxygen is still getting to the brain, breaking a few ribs is a small tradeoff for life.

Can You Be Sued for Using an Automated External Defibrillator in an Emergency Medical Situation?

There is plenty of legal immunity from civil liability for businesses that offer AEDs. There have been no recorded convictions against someone who has used a defibrillator to save someone’s life – you’re protected by ‘Good Samaritan’ rules, which protect users who try to save a person from death; you can’t be prosecuted for first aid in this regard. All you have to do is prove that you were behaving in the victim’s best interests.

If you are sued for negligence in a civil case, the court can equate your acts to those of a fair person of equal standing.

Reasonable individual means that they can consider the situation rather than judging you according to a set of rules. If you don’t have any first-aid experience, you’re bound to make mistakes; and if you do, you’re bound to make mistakes when you’re under pressure. Your training may have just covered the basics, or you may have missed stuff if it was a long time ago – all of these considerations are included under the word reasonable individual, which almost always means you cannot be prosecuted for first aid.

The same standing aspect suggests that you can be handled at a degree commensurate with your level of education; you cannot be compared to a medical professional. If you’ve never used a defibrillator before and have no first-aid experience, your actions can be judged by what someone in a similar situation would expect.

What are Your Responsibilities as a Business?

In certain sectors, having a trained first responder on hand is a legal necessity. In the event of an emergency, it is their responsibility to have a duty of treatment and assistance. When performing their operations, many groups, such as sports clubs, assume a duty of care, and it is up to them to provide treatment in the event of sudden cardiac arrests.

If your workplace has a defibrillator, you must also meet the legal guidelines for its upkeep. This can require adequate reporting and system maintenance in compliance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you don’t keep your defibrillator in good working order, you might face a lawsuit. For this reason, it is important that consider that you are liable for the maintenance of your defibrillator. So, should you ever need to make use of automated external defibrillators, it is important that you provide individuals with the appropriate training, as well as make a concerted effort when it comes to the maintenance of the device.

Choosing the Right Defibrillator

Your defibrillator may have been collecting dust for some time, but it must be rescue-ready in a moment when you need it most. It can face extremely difficult conditions depending on where it is put. If it’s onboard a ship, for example, it’ll have to be able to survive under the harshest conditions.

The most important part is determining which manufacturer produces the AED that best matches your or your organization’s needs. It’s important to pick the right defibrillator to produce a shock if you want the rescue to go smoothly. If you realize you’ll be working in a noisy environment where you won’t be able to hear audio prompts clearly, you might suggest having an AED with visual prompts instead to prevent any problems during the procedure.

There are a number of different options that you can choose from, all of which have different pros and cons, some of these options are:

Use of an AED to Treat Cardiac Arrest

When using a nationally recognized AED, it is important that all the necessary maintenance and testing is done in order to ensure that it does not fail when it is needed. Many organizations have an AED program that is maintained in good faith. Doing so keeps any AED ready in the case of emergency medical needs. The use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for the treatment of any issue regarding heart rhythms or arrhythmia.

The Bottom Line

After reading this article, you should have a much better idea of the laws that govern the use and storage of AEDs. By knowing these laws, you ensure that you make the best possible decisions for you and your organization. Ignorance of these laws can lead to you having to deal with some pretty hefty consequences, ones that you would rather avoid. So, by sticking to the law, you do not have to deal with any unforeseen circumstances.

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