Common questions from Risk Managers at RIMS 2016

Posted: May 3, 2016    |   Gretchen Kirkwood

RIMS 2016 was a great conference this year in sunny San Diego. There seemed to be no end to the list of interesting topics for the education sessions.

One session focused on AED programs and I realized as I sat in that many of the questions posed that day are likely common questions for many in risk management.

Here is a short list of some of the questions and respective answers that you might like to know.


Q: What is Physician Oversight / Medical Direction and do I need to have this at my sites?

A: Physician Oversight / Medical Direction requirements will vary a bit from state to state, but the overarching theme is oriented towards promoting a “proper framework” for the AED program. Some states provide rather specific guidance as to what is entailed while others take a more general approach. Some of the more common themes are advising on items such as quantity / location of AEDs to promote the ability to respond in a timely manner, numbers of currently trained responders to be maintained, procedures for upkeep, and local EMS notification

A number of states also stipulate that a physician review incident data following the use of an AED and provide the data to the local EMS agency or an analogue,though the practical reality is that many jurisdictions have no practical means of using / storing it.


Q: Does the AED need a prescription?

A: FDA regulations do require a prescription for AEDs. The prescription requirement is often confused with Physician Oversight / Medical Direction, but they are two distinct items. While it sounds like you may have to go to your doctor to get a prescription, it is usually much easier than that and most AED manufacturers include the prescription with the purchase of an AED.


Q: What if one of our employees incorrectly uses the AED and hurts someone?

A: AEDs are incredibly safe and easy to use. The machines provide voice prompts that deliver step by step instructions on how to properly use the device. All AEDs are designed to detect arrhythmias that indicate cardiac arrest. As a result, if the victim is not having a cardiac arrest the AED will not allow a person to deliver a shock. Also, while it is difficult to mis-use an AED, there are state-level Good Samaritan protections that insulate owners and users of AEDs from liability.


Q: Are there online options for CPR/AED training and do they meet legal requirements?

A: Yes, there are now online options and the most recent AHA Guidelines underscore the efficacy of online training. When choosing an online AED/CPR program, look for one that is approved in the states in which you will train so that you are covered by Good Samaritan protections.


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