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Posted: 6/14/2010

Liability. This is a “fear” that weighs heavily on everyone’s mind when considering purchasing an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) for their organization. All 50 states have created “Good Samaritan” and AED Laws to protect responders, organizations, and the victim. Understanding these laws is key to implementing a successful AED Program.

Is there a liability factor owning an AED (Automated External Defibrillator)?

This question tends to be the number one factor in determining if a corporate, fitness, church or any other organization considers purchasing an automated external defibrillator (AED) for their facility.

There are several factors supporting why liability should no longer be the number one deterrent when considering implementing an AED program. With the passing of the CASA act (Cardiac Arrest Survival Act) of 2000, passed by Bill Clinton, immunity measures from liability for the entity and/or person utilizing an AED in good faith have been enacted on a federal level.

The Cardiac Arrest Survival Act (CASA)1 now requires the U.S. Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department to establish guidelines for placing AEDs in federal buildings. These guidelines must include the proper placement of the AEDs and the appropriate procedures are followed:

  • Implement the appropriate training program of the AED device and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
  • Ensure the proper testing and ongoing maintenance of the AED
  • Ensuring the proper licensed medical direction and oversight of the program
  • Ensure that local EMS (Emergency Medical Services) have been notified of the devices and incidents and uses of the devices

When these guidelines were published, they lead to community based defibrillation programs leading to more unified state AED laws, regulations and training requirements, otherwise known as “Good Samaritan” laws.

Mr. Richard Lazar, a legal expert on emergency medical services topics and an advisor to the National Center for Early Defibrillation states: “The perceptions and fear of legal liability continue to serve as barriers to large-scale adoption of public access defibrillation (PAD) programs in out-of-hospital settings.”

With the help of the medical community’s experience of implementing multiple PAD programs across the US and the advancement in technology, AEDs have become more accessible and easier to purchase without the fear of liability. The trend and fear of not having an AED available at larger, more populated facilities, such as fitness facilities or sporting event venues, is starting to actually turn the other direction.

In the last several years, the liability factor for not having an AED has come up in multiple law suits across the country. Two of the most notable law suits happened in Florida on two separate occasions.

The first of which occurred at the Busch Gardens Theme Park when a 13 year old child died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). The park did NOT have an AED on site and was sued by the family. The Jury awarded a judgment of $500,000.00 in damages to the victim’s family.

A second example of a liability issue for not having an AED on site came to light at the “Q Sports Club” fitness center, in Florida. In this particular case a 42 year old gentleman went into SCA and the facility did not have an AED on sight. They were not able to revive the gentleman and he ended up in a coma with no brain function. This case settled out of court for the sum of 2.25 million dollars.

Cases like these clearly illustrate the liability risks that impact businesses can be greatly reduced by implementing AED programs. Obtaining the proper medical direction, following Good Samaritan laws, and receiving the proper CPR/AED training from an experienced and accredited training center, are all major factors in implementing a successful and compliant program.

Contact AED-SHOP.com to find out more about implementing your AED program utilizing the direction of your state’s Good Samaritan Laws and the CASA act of 2000 guidelines. AED-SHOP.com offers AEDs from the top AED manufactures. Our goal is to help educate the public about Sudden Cardiac Arrest and how AEDs can help decrease the number of deaths from Sudden Cardiac Arrest with the proper AED program and training.

1 Lazar R.A. Understanding legal issues: National Center for Early Defibrillation

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