Public access defibrillation: emerging importance of automated external defibrillators as a diagnostic clinical tool

Andrew D Mulligan, Omar Al-Mukhtar and Michael Wong
Med J Aust 2017; 206 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja16.01037
Published online: 6 March 2017

The use of public access automated external defibrillators (AEDs) has rapidly increased from 2003 to 2013 — with an 11-fold growth in Victoria — and has shown improvement in survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.1 Prompt deployment relies on lay people to recognise a cardiac arrest, operate the device and manage basic life support.2 Lay people’s use of these devices located in public locations, as opposed to specialised health care settings, is unparalleled among medical devices. However, lay people are not involved in the clinical handover of the patient with the AED and it often remains with the private owner, who may not appreciate the importance of retrieving critical AED data. Lack of handover postresuscitation of initial rhythm and AED data has been shown to underdiagnose ventricular fibrillation (VF), as well as miss other significant rhythms such as complete heart block.3,4

  • Footscray Hospital, Melbourne, VIC


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Lijovic M, Bernard S, Nehme Z, et al; Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry Steering Committee. Public access defibrillation–results from the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry. Resuscitation 2014; 85: 1739-1744.
  • 2. Hansen MB, Lippert FK, Rasmussen LS, Nielsen AM. Systematic downloading and analysis of data from automated external defibrillators used in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Resuscitation 2014; 85: 1681-1685.
  • 3. Nielsen AM, Rasmussen LS. The value of ECG downloads from automated external defibrillators. Resuscitation 2010; 81: 917-918.
  • 4. Hansen MB, Nielsen AM. ECGs from deployed AEDs: a neglected resource? Resuscitation 2014; 85: e79-80.
  • 5. Nishiyama T, Nishiyama A, Negishi M, et al. Diagnostic accuracy of commercially available automated external defibrillators. J Am Heart Assoc 2015; 4: doi: 10.1161/JAHA.115.002465.


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