AED laws cause confusion while patchwork of regulations discourages use of AEDs

From: Scripps Media ABC 2

There is no dispute that portable defibrillators, simple-to-use device that  supply jolts to shock a stilled heart to beat again, could save tens of  thousands of lives a year in this country alone if they are accessible to  willing bystanders.

But across America, there is anything but agreement among states about rules  for the use of automated external defibrillators (or AEDs): Where they must be  located; if they should be registered so authorities know where they are;  whether a business that installs one is fully protected from liability; or even  if a company is obliged to use one if someone on the premises suffers sudden  cardiac arrest.

And some experts say the uneven patchwork of laws and regulations is a  worrisome barrier to more widespread distribution and use of the battery-powered  devices, which, if employed within minutes of cardiac arrest, can bring a person  back to life.

For instance, many AEDs still carry labels saying they should only be used by  "medical professionals" even though there are laws in every state giving "good  Samaritan'' protection to anyone who tries to use one to save the life of  someone in cardiac arrest.

"The concerns about risk and liability remain very high,'' said Richard  Lazar, president of Readiness Systems LLC, a Portland, Ore., firm that consults  with businesses and governments on AED training and placement.

Mandates for where AEDs should be placed are a national checkerboard.  Nineteen states impose no mandates. But, in New York state, AEDs are required in  health clubs, while in Florida, they're mandatory in public high schools. Yet  recent court rulings in both states have held that, just because those  facilities are required to have the devices, they are under no legal obligation  to use them.

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