AED in the healthcare workplace: liability or a legal defense?

By: January 22nd, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

I received an interesting email from a reader this morning concerning Automatic External Defibrilators (AEDs), and their use in the healthcare workplace.

Basically, the reader (from an orthopedic surgery clinic) wanted to know if OSHA looks at the presence of an AED as a liability.

After doing some research at OSHA’s Web site ( it appears that OSHA does not have any specific standards governing their use, it definitely takes the stance that they are lifesaving devices with a proven track record of saving the lives of people who go into sudden cardiac arrest.

In my own experience as an EMT and a CPR/AED instructor, I can tell you that for each minute a victim goes without a defibrillator, their chance of survival goes down 10 percent. I can also tell you that a typical EMS response ranges from 5 to 7 minutes or longer depending on your location. Do the math.

While yes, those who are not familiar with the use of an AED are intimidated by the thought of shocking someone, they are in fact so lifesaving that it’s becoming more of a liability to NOT have one, and at less than $2,000 it’s worth the cost.

I hear stories all the time about lives saved at places like malls, fitness centers, medical clinics, and other places because someone acted quickly and knew how to use an AED.

If you work in a place where sudden cardiac arrests are more likely to occur, or where large groups of people congregate, you can bet this statistic will be pointed out in any potential lawsuits. I’d like to know your thoughts!


By Mandi Regan on January 23rd, 2014 at 10:59 am

Dear John,
This is a great topic of conversation. I am a RN and a CPR instructor. With the abundance of AEDs and raised awareness of the importance of time-sensitive actions, it would only seem reasonable that OSHA would make more of a stand on requiring, at a minimum, health care facilities and stand-alone clinics to have AEDs available with trained staff.
Thank you,
Mandi Regan

I am also a CPR instructor and I can really only see OSHA getting involved in this in a limited capacity. While they would certainly recognize the fact that AED’s are integral in saving lives, since OSHA’s perspective is to protect the employee, I would think that they would possibly require employees tasked with using AED’s maintain their CPR/AED certification so that they are using the device safely. Outside that I think local health department rules or state laws would mandate who would be required to have AED’s on site.


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