ACOEM Advises Employers to Use AEDs in Workplace

Sept. 28, 2001
The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has published a new guideline that urges employers\r\nto consider using AEDs in selected workplaces.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among working-age adults.

Recent reports estimate that approximately 15 percent of all workplace deaths are due to SCA.

While recent legislation (the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act) requires the establishment of guidelines for placing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in buildings owned or leased by the federal government, private employers are not required to have such devices.

However, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has published a new guideline that urges employers to consider using AEDs in selected workplaces -- beyond the scope of federal buildings, and provides guidance on their use.

The ACOEM guideline -- "Automated External Defibrillation in the Occupational Setting" -- was developed to increase awareness of the value of AEDs and provide guidance on their use in the workplace.

In addition to reviewing the epidemiology, morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular diseases, the guideline presents standard-of-care interventions and recommendations for establishing and managing a workplace AED program.

"This guideline describes the critical categories of what to do. Individual sites may require customization as they identify and implement the how to do components," said Dr. Larry Starr, Ph.D., the guideline''s lead author. "As one who has worked on several dozen corporate AED programs, I think this document will save physicians considerable work by identifying problems, objectives and effective solution paths."

ACOEM recommends that employer-sponsored AED programs include:

  • medical direction and control of the program;
  • an awareness of and compliance with federal and state regulations;
  • coordination with local emergency medical services;
  • integration with an overall emergency response plan for the worksite;
  • ancillary medical equipment and supplies for the workplace AED program;
  • establishment of an AED quality assurance program; and
  • periodic review and modification of the workplace AED program protocols.

"A defibrillation program should take a systems approach," said Starr. "Failing to do this can lead to a workplace in which people are not adequately prepared to access the device, are not properly trained to coordinate with CPR or advanced life support therapies, do not meet federal or state AED laws, or do not adequately set up quality control and documentation protocols."

by Virginia Foran

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