Legal Problems with keeping an Automated External Defibrillator On Site?
Question: Will I Run Into Legal Problems if I Keep an Automated External Defibrillator On Site?
Answer: Automated external defibrillators (or “AEDs”) can help save a life in the event of a cardiac emergency, and they have become extremely prevalent. But what about the risks? Here’s the classic scenario: a manager attempts to use an AED to help an employee having a heart attack, fails to do it right, and the employee dies. Will you be liable?
The companies that sell the AEDs usually do not tell you what you most need to know: there is a provision in the Pennsylvania Good Samaritan statute that will protect you from liability (except in a situation where someone you employ intentionally uses the AED to cause harm or was grossly negligent), if you follow certain steps. Here’s what the statute says – unlike so many statutes, it’s relatively clear. Note especially the training requirement:
Any person who acquires and maintains an AED for use in accordance with this section shall:
- Ensure that expected AED users receive training pursuant to subsection (c).
- Maintain and test the AED according to the manufacturer’s operational guidelines.
- Provide instruction requiring the user of the AED to utilize available means to immediately contact and activate the emergency medical services system.
- Assure that any appropriate data or information is made available to emergency medical services personnel or other health care providers as requested.
- Training.–For purposes of this section, expected AED users shall complete training in the use of an AED consistent with American Red Cross, American Heart Association or other national standards as identified and approved by the Department of Health in consultation with the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council.
An AED should never be used to replace a medical emergency plan, and always call 911 in an emergency, AED or not. Members should also implement a routine inspection and maintenance program to ensure the units are in proper working condition.
*Provided by Michael Kulakowski, attorney at Powell Trachtman
MEA’s goal is to provide current, detailed and useful information to expert hotline callers, but our responses do not constitute legal advice about what you should or should not do in a particular situation. You should always consult legal counsel, in the context of a confidential attorney-client relationship, before taking any action that could have legal implications for you or your business. If legal services are needed, MEA members are entitled to a discounted fee arrangement with the Powell Trachtman law firm, which serves as MEA’s general counsel. For more information, contact Michael G. Trachtman at firstname.lastname@example.org.