HTAC Report on Automatic External Defibrillators

Author: Monica Preboth
Date: Nov 15, 1999

The Health Technology Advisory Committee (HTAC) has published a report on automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). HTAC was established in 1992 by the Minnesota State Legislature. It is an independent, non-partisan advisory body that evaluates new and emerging health care technologies based on existing scientific research and technology assessments.

In the United States, sudden cardiac arrest strikes 350,000 persons per year, making it the most common event leading to death. Most events of sudden cardiac arrest are caused by arrhythmias, the most common of which is ventricular fibrillation. Fortunately, the use of AEDs can potentially improve the survival rate of persons with ventricular fibrillation. AEDs automatically perform an analysis of the heart, determine if defibrillation is required and deliver electrical shocks to the heart. There is a growing trend toward the placement of AEDs in public and private settings. The HTAC report is intended to assist persons who are considering buying and installing AEDs or making them a part of their first response team.

The report lists the five main parts of a successful AED program. They include an evaluation to determine appropriate placement of the device, a plan for implementing personnel training and retraining, medical oversight, data collection protocols and follow-up of outcomes. It also emphasizes the importance of having cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AEDs associated with an effective first response dispatch system and recommends that widespread public use of AEDs should not proceed until data are collected on the effectiveness of these devices in medical settings.

For more information on this report, call HTAC at 651-282-6374 or write to: HTAC, 121 E. Seventh Pl., Ste. 400, St. Paul, MN 55101. All HTAC reports are also available on the Internet at

COPYRIGHT 1999 American Academy of Family PhysiciansCOPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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