Monthly Archives: August 2019

Top 10 Questions About AEDs

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About AEDs

1. What is an AED?

AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator.

2. What Does an AED Do?

An AED is a portable device that delivers a life-saving shock to a heart that is experiencing fibrillation. An AED automatically analyzes and measure an unresponsive person’s heart rhythm. If the heart is experiencing fibrillation and a shock is deemed necessary, an AED will deliver a shock to restart the heart or to restore the heart to the correct rhythm. The AED will first analyze the victim’s heart rhythm, and then audio or text prompts will tell the rescuer how to proceed. If defibrillation is necessary, the device will warn responders to stay clear of the victim while the shock is delivered. If CPR is indicated, the AED will instruct the rescuer to continue performing CPR.

For more information about how an AED works, check out our post, (Almost) Everything You Need to Know About CPR and AEDs.

3. What is Defibrillation?

Believe it or not, defibrillation was discovered at the University of Geneva in 1899 by physiologists Jean-Louis Prevost and Frédéric Batelli. Ventricular fibrillation is a condition that occurs when the heart beats rapidly and erratically. The History of Defibrillation, Defibrillators, and Portable AEDs is a must-read if you’re as fascinated by the subject as we are.

4. Do I Really Need an AED?

Six Shocking Statistics About Sudden Cardiac Arrest and AEDs answers this question pretty thoroughly, but 68.5% of the 456,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home. In other words, if you have an AED, the life you save will likely be that of a loved one.

5. Do I Need to Have Special Training to Use an AED?

Nope. While we encourage everyone to gain the confidence they need through CPR, First Aid, and AED certification courses, multilingual voice and text prompts ensure that everyone can become a lifesaver.

6. Can I Harm Someone By Using an AED?

An AED is designed to be used on someone who is experiencing cardiac arrest. It may be an individual’s best chance at survival. Thanks to built-in sensors and safety features, AEDs will not deliver unnecessary shocks.

7. Can I Use an AED on an Infant?

Yes, it’s safe to use an AED on infants and children. Although AEDs are manufactured with adults in mind, most AEDs come equipped with pediatric settings and/or pediatric pads that adjust the energy level used. These settings make them safe for use on young children who weigh less than 55 pounds. The American Heart Association recommends that pediatric attenuated pads should be used on children under the age of eight and on infants. Adult pads are used on children eight years and older. However, if pediatric pads and settings are not available, the American Red Cross suggests that an AED with adult pads should be used.

8. Can an AED be Used on a Pregnant Woman? 

Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time. If a pregnant woman goes into cardiac arrest, call 911 and tell the operator that the victim is pregnant. This will help alert EMS providers so they’re prepared upon arrival and can transport the woman to a hospital that can perform an emergency C-section, if necessary.

Next, start CPR with chest compressions as you would for an individual who is not pregnant. It is vitally important to keep blood and oxygen moving throughout the body. According to the American Heart Association, it is safe to use an AED if one is available.

9. Do AEDs Expire?

Although AEDs don’t expire, batteries and pads do. The importance of AED preventative maintenance and service cannot be overstated. We recommend AED owners invest in both preventative maintenance and compliance management programs to ensure their AEDs are fully operational and in compliance with local laws.

10. Where’s the Best Place to Keep My AED?

If you own an AED it needs to be publicly accessible and in plain sight. An AED can’t save a life if it can’t be found. For more information, read our AED placement guide: Finding the Best Location for Your AED

Ready to schedule CPR and AED training for your team? Or perhaps it’s time to invest in LifeShield AED Compliance Management to ensure that your AED is good to go. For AED solutions, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

DISCLAIMER: The information included in this post and on our website is not intended as legal advice. As legislation changes often, this post may inadvertently contain inaccurate or incomplete information. We urge you to contact your state representative should you require more information about current AED, CPR, and Good Samaritan laws in your state.

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the cardiopartners.com and aed.com websites/blogs are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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Heatstroke and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Heatstroke is no joke. Despite the fact that all heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 658 people succumb to extreme heat each year. 

Sudden death — or sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) — can be brought on by a number of different causes including congenital heart defects, cardiac arrhythmia, commotio cordis, hypovolemic shock, and even electrolyte imbalances brought on by hyperthermia (heat stroke). 

Since we’re knee-deep in summer, we thought it was a good time to talk about heatstroke, its connection to SCA, and how to avoid it.

What Causes Heatstroke?

Heat-related illnesses are caused by exposure to too much sunlight and heat. When your body can’t cool itself adequately, you may start to feel over-hot, headachy, clammy, heavy, tired, dizzy, and nauseated. Your heart rate may increase as well. If this happens, it’s time to stop whatever it is you’re doing and find some water, shade, or air conditioning! 

Exposure to excessive heat can directly or indirectly cause some illnesses, and can certainly exacerbate preexisting conditions, such as heart and respiratory disease.

How Can You Prevent Heatstroke and Heat-Related Illnesses?

The CDC notes that “People at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to 4 years old; people 65 years of age and older; people who are overweight or have existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease; people who are socially isolated; and the poor.” 

However, even young and seemingly healthy individuals can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke if they’re engaging in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Drinking alcohol, taking certain medications, or excessive exposure can put people at an even greater risk. 

Basically, anything that causes dehydration and inhibits perspiration or otherwise impairs your body’s ability to regulate its internal temperature can put you at risk of heatstroke. 

Here’s what you can do to stay cool:

  • Stay loose: Wear comfortable, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Put a lid on it: Protect your brain! Wear a hat or invest in a reflective umbrella.
  • Avoidance is okay: When the temperatures start to soar, stay out of the sunshine.
  • Exercise early: If you need to get a move on — and everyone should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity each week — do it before 9:00 am or after 4:00 pm.
  • Drink up: If you are exercising in the heat, drink plenty of electrolyte-enriched water and take frequent breaks.
  • Get acclimated: If you work outside or you’re on a beach vacation, let your body acclimate to the heat before doing anything strenuous.
  • Circulation is your friend: If you don’t have air conditioning, be sure to use fans to keep air flowing in your home.
  • Slather on the sunscreen: Sunburn limits your body’s ability to keep itself cool. So even if it looks uncool, keep applying sunscreen.
  • Be a good neighbor: Check-in on folks who might be at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses such as elderly, disabled, or house-bound individuals.

Why are Electrolytes so Important?

Calcium, sodium, and potassium are the most important electrolytes in your body. “Calcium and potassium have to be in balance—sitting on either side of cell membranes, ready to switch places—in order to cause muscles to contract or nerves to transmit impulses. Once calcium and potassium swap places and cause things to happen, sodium puts them back in their place for the next time. If there aren’t enough of one or two or all of these electrolytes, then the heart muscle cells can’t move, which means the heart won’t pump,” (VeryWell Health).

And here’s what the American Heart Association has to say about electrolytes: “Electrolyte abnormalities are commonly associated with cardiovascular emergencies. These abnormalities may cause or contribute to cardiac arrest and may hinder resuscitative efforts.” 

Cardiac arrest brought on by heatstroke is 100% avoidable! Listen to your body, and before you head out into the sun, whip up a batch of homemade lemon-ginger electrolyte drink!

For more information on sudden cardiac arrest, AEDs, and CPR and AED Training, search our blog archives or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the cardiopartners.com and aed.com websites/blogs are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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Should Rescuers Be Held Liable for Poor CPR Performance?

Detroit EMTs Fired After Feedback Data Showed Inadequate CPR

In late March, the Detroit Free Press reported that two of the city’s EMTs had been fired after an AED feedback tool indicated they had failed to deliver high-quality CPR. The victim — a 6-foot-3, 280-pound man with a history of pulmonary embolisms — was pronounced dead soon after arriving at the emergency room.  

Here at Cardio Partners, we’re pretty passionate about AEDs and CPR. In fact, we consider it our duty to inform our readers about topics ranging from sudden cardiac arrest to AED legislation to the importance of CPR

The tragic event in Detroit brings up a host of issues and plenty of questions for the industry. Richard Lazar, President of Readiness Systems (which publishes AED Law Center) noted the following in an editorial published on LinkedIn

“If better CPR is the goal of CPR feedback tools, then great, no problem. But in this case, it appears from news accounts that CPR performance data was used as one of the reasons to fire the two EMTs. If the failure to deliver high-quality CPR (however defined) is legally actionable (either administratively as in this case or civilly in a negligence lawsuit), then volunteer bystanders and professional healthcare workers will be placed in legal jeopardy if they use CPR feedback devices that collect and store performance data. This is quite scary and raises a host of questions.

“For ‘bad’ CPR to give rise to a lawsuit or administrative proceeding, ‘bad’ must be adequately defined and enforceable as a legally binding “standard of care.” However, CPR competence is not governed by any existing or binding standards. As far as I am aware, no statute has been passed and no agency regulation adopted in any state requiring strict adherence to CPR performance metrics. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, however, plaintiff’s lawyers may try to use CPR feedback data to prove volunteer bystanders or healthcare professionals are negligent in CPR/AED cases – a messy and nebulous process that leaves standard of care decisions to judges and juries.

“Claiming CPR feedback devices or CPR competence training represents a standard of care is consequential since this very loaded term has more legal than medical meaning. And who, for example, determines what the enforceable standard for CPR quality is? The benchmark – however defined – will undoubtedly change over time as it has consistently since the 1700s. So what standard will apply when? CPR feedback technology will also have to prove itself good enough – and defensible enough – to stand up to the rigors of litigation and advocacy. Finally, makers of CPR feedback technology and CPR competence trainers may find themselves in the litigation/liability target zone alongside those doing the CPR. The potential ramifications hinted at by this case and the notion of CPR quality as a standard of care seem endless.”

We also think it’s worth pointing to a study published by Baylor University Medical Center in 2017. Researchers found that performing successful compressions on obese or morbidly obese manikins (and, based on the aforementioned victim’s BMI of 35, he would have been considered obese) was significantly more difficult than doing so on a manikin with a healthy BMI. In fact, 23 out of 30 compressions on the normal manikin were successful while 0 out of 30 were successful on the obese and morbidly obese manikins.

“High-quality, effective compressions are vital to successful CPR. Results of this study indicate that compression quality is lower when performed on obese and morbidly obese adult simulation manikins…Edelson and associates found that morbid obesity was associated with poor outcomes in comparison to subjects who were not morbidly obese. They also found that morbidly obese patients received shallower chest compressions.”

AEDs and CPR Save Lives

In 2015, the CDC reported that 375,000 people in the US experienced an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association estimates that at least 20,000 lives could be saved annually by prompt use of AEDs. The AHA also notes that “communities with AED programs, which include comprehensive CPR and AED training, have achieved survival rates of 40% or higher for cardiac arrest victims.” 

AEDs with automatic feedback are designed to assist rescuers — both professional and untrained bystanders — improve survival outcomes. 

Clearly, more research is needed; however, the Baylor researchers concluded that “CPR training for individuals working in a hospital should be representative of potential situations that they may encounter, and it is likely that health care workers will encounter obese or morbidly obese patients. Implications for healthcare workers include maintaining competency of basic life support skills and being prepared to deliver CPR on obese patients.”

Are EMTs Protected by Good Samaritan Laws?

Given our litigious society, bystanders may feel some reluctance to help out in emergency situations. In fact, some potential rescuers may even choose not to offer assistance to those in need for fear of liability. While proceeding with caution and care is always advised, fortunately, all 50 states and the District of Columbia now include AED usage as part of their Good Samaritan Laws. 

These laws vary by state but they have been enacted to protect organizations and laypersons — and in some cases, first responders — from civil litigation.

Basically, these statutes protect those who help others in a time of crisis or emergency. Often these laws only apply if the rescuer is acting without any expectation of compensation or reward. In other words, if you’re a medical professional getting paid to rescue, then these laws may not apply to you. 

In general, states also extend Good Samaritan protections not only to good faith rescuers but also to AED trainers; to the person responsible for the site where the AED is located (when that person has provided for an AED training program); and to any physician who prescribes an AED. 

Protect Yourself From Civil Liability

First and foremost, always act in good faith. Regardless of the laws in your state, it’s wise to protect yourself from possible liability by acting on behalf of the victim. Here are a few tips to protect yourself from liability:

  • Take a nationally-recognized First Aid course
  • Become AED certified
  • Learn CPR
  • Make sure your certifications are up-to-date
  • Use common sense
  • If possible, ask the victim if you can assist them
  • Don’t try to be a hero, but do try to help
  • Don’t do anything you’re not trained to do
  • Seek professional help as soon as possible
  • Never accept cash, gifts, or other awards for your assistance

While Good Samaritan Laws provide some level of protection if a lawsuit is filed, they do not prohibit or prevent a lawsuit from being filed. In fact, some states, such as Rhode Island, only offer Good Samaritan immunity to individuals who hold up-to-date AED certifications. Virginia, by way of contrast, offers extensive protection and goes so far as to urge the public to receive CPR and AED training.

Ready to hone your CPR and AED skills? We have the info you need about CPR or AEDs and CPR and AED Training. To purchase an AED, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

DISCLAIMER: The information included in this post and on our website is not intended as legal advice. As legislation changes often, this post may inadvertently contain inaccurate or incomplete information. We urge you to contact your state representative should you require more information about current AED, CPR, and Good Samaritan laws in your state.

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the cardiopartners.com and aed.com websites/blogs is intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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