Florida AED Injuries Can Result in Liability
Sudden cardiac arrest is an extremely serious and terrifying emergency requiring immediate care and attention. It occurs when the heart stops beating abruptly, ceasing blood flow to the brain and organs. Every minute that the condition goes untreated results in a 10% reduction in survival probability. Many businesses maintain Automated External Defibrillators (AED) for patrons to use in a cardiac emergency. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the AED checks the rhythm of the heart and sends an electric shock to the heart if a life threatening abnormality is detected.
The state of Florida does not require businesses to provide AEDs. There is generally no duty to make an AED available to patrons or clients. However, if a business does make the decision to provide a unit in cases of emergency there are obligations required to protect users from injury. The Florida Cardiac Arrest Survival Act provides legal immunity for a person attempting to use an AED on a patient with the patient’s consent. This immunity extends to the business that provides the unit for use. The survival act was signed into law for the purpose of promoting assistance for victims of cardiac emergency without the fear of liability hanging over the rescuers head.
Proper Unit Maintenance
The Survival Act does place specific responsibilities on the entity providing the AED to adequately maintain the unit and train any employee or representative who will use the unit. The AED Expert Center provides guidelines for proper care of an AED:
- The unit should be placed in a visible location, with no obstructions in its path. Placement should not exceed 48 inches from the ground to ensure accessibility.
- Maintain proper batteries that are in good working order and not close to expiration. Back up batteries are advisable and proper attention must be paid to the battery indicator light, located on most AED units.
- The AED uses pads that are placed on the chest to restart the heart when necessary. These pads carry the electric charge and businesses must maintain them in proper working order. The pads can expire and extra pads should remain on hand.
- Check the overall integrity of the unit on a regular basis to make sure all parts are in working order with no signs of wear. The battery compartment should also be checked for possible erosion.
Typical Liability Claims
If these maintenance procedures are not followed properly it can lead to an improperly functioning unit. In the case of a cardiac emergency using a malfunctioning AED can result in serious injuries, including brain damage and possible death. The most common AED liability cases result from three possibilities:
- Businesses that do not maintain an AED on the premises, though the nature of their services would require one.
- Businesses that do have an AED, but fail to implement a usage plan. This can include:
○ An inaccessible unit;
○ Battery failure;or
○ Failure to train properly.
- Design or manufacturing flaws in the unit.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury involving an AED issue, contact the Miami based firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado for knowledgeable and skillful representation. Call the office today at 305-670-2889 for a free consultation.