Dangers of Decentralized AED Programs

Posted: August 19, 2015    |   Dan Guglielmi

With over 600,000 deaths in the US each year from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), many safety-conscious organizations have implemented Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and AED Programs to combat this deadly epidemic. These organizations should be commended, and have made the workplace safer for their employees. However, many organizations have implemented these devices and programs in a decentralized and ad-hoc manner. Although well-intentioned, this approach can lead to larger, more complex issues from an enterprise-wide perspective.

In many organizations, each business unit, region or site is burdened with the decision to implement, determining what make, model and quantity of AED(s) to purchase, choosing a program management and maintenance system and/or 3rd party vendor, along with securing and coordinating required training for its responder teams – often from various additional sources. These various decision points and availability of options can create a mix of standards, equipment, processes, and service levels that can hinder overall preparedness. Considering survival rates decrease 10% per minute in SCA events – the dangers of decentralized AED Programs can be quite alarming.

For example, during a recent on-boarding of a large industrial organization, CardioReady found close to 20% of existing AEDs in the field were considered “end-of-life” (no longer supported by manufacturers) or “home-use” AEDs (not intended for commercial use). Another common oversight that is found are considerable gaps in regular, required device checks by an organization’s own staff or 3rd party vendors contracted to perform them.

In addition to these, some other common problems with these programs are:

• Adoption rate – AEDs in some sites while not in others, and why?
• Insufficient AED coverage – What is the standard response time?
• Expired consumables (e.g. batteries, pads) in the field
• Expired or insufficient training
• Issues with recall & device update management
• Financial inefficiencies
• Numerous 3rd parties engaged to perform maintenance checks and related duties
• Lack of visibility and communication of program utilization, e.g. best practices, training, saves
• Varied individual site performance

There are no second chances in a lifesaving event, and you want your AED Program to work when you need it. There are also many moving parts associated with AED programs including compliance items, regulatory considerations, procurement mechanics, maintenance and tracking, as well as communications and training. In addition, AEDs are not used on a daily basis in most settings and are not the primary job function of most employees or site managers. Therefore, the lack of regular interaction makes it easy for things to go unnoticed.

Centralized AED Programs reduce time and effort, and promote continuous improvement through sharing of Best Practices across business units, regions, and sites. They also are better equipped to address episodic items such as product upgrades and recalls, guideline changes, and mass expirations where a central database is key to ensuring action is taken on impacted devices.

Centralized AED Programs also reduce cost by leveraging the purchasing power of the entire enterprise on AEDs and consumables, Program Management and Training. Also, better utilization rates are seen that inform adoption at other sites. In addition, better event data better enables improvement and communication around procedures, training, and saves.

In summary, the best AED Programs are ingrained in an organization’s culture, a part of their shared philosophy and value system around safety, health, and wellness – and that remains highly centralized.




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