Placement of AEDs for Quick Access in Healthcare Environments

May 18, 2022 | Evaluations & Guidance


Defibrillators are essential lifesaving medical equipment that must be close at hand in the event of a cardiac arrest. In most acute care environments, a qualified advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) "code" team is expected to respond to cardiac emergencies that arise in patient care areas, as well as in some public access spaces in the main facility (e.g., cafeteria, lobby). The code team is prepared to use manual defibrillator/monitors that have advanced medical capabilities, such as multilead ECG display, extensive monitoring capabilities, and user-selectable defibrillation energy levels (see our Evaluation Background on these devices).

However, many healthcare facilities have outlying buildings, parking areas, and other spaces that may not be easily covered by a code team. Moreover, sub-acute care facilities, such as physicians' offices and long-term care facilities, may not have the qualified staff, budget, or need for manual defibrillator/monitors. Yet patients, visitors, or staff can still experience a cardiac emergency in these locations, and the likelihood of a successful resuscitation with good neurological and cardiac outcomes decreases with every minute that passes. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) may be an attractive alternative for locations that aren't easily accessible by a code team and in which cardiac arrests are generally not expected to occur frequently.

AEDs are intended for use primarily by people trained in basic life support (BLS) or in CPR plus AED use (learn more in our Evaluation Background on AEDs). When connected to a patient, the device reads the ECG and recommends whether or not to deliver a shock. It also automatically selects the appropriate energy level. AEDs are designed to be very easy to use and to provide detailed guidance to users. Because they can be safely operated by a wide range of potential users and because they tend to be much less expensive than manual defibrillator/monitors (about 10% of...

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