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Controversies
September 20, 2000

The Shocking Truth About Automated External Defibrillators

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Dr Brown); and the Department of Emergency Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga (Dr Kellermann).

 

Controversies Section Editor: Phil B. Fontanarosa, MD, Executive Deputy Editor.

JAMA. 2000;284(11):1438-1441. doi:10.1001/jama.284.11.1438

The first successful electrical defibrillation was described in 1947, when Claude Beck used open-chest massage and alternating current internal defibrillation to resuscitate a 14-year-old boy whose heart was in ventricular fibrillation.1 Immediate defibrillation is now considered the standard of care for treatment of ventricular fibrillation and should be undertaken before initiation of other advanced life support measures, such as endotracheal intubation. It has been clearly shown that the interval from cardiac arrest to defibrillation is a major determinant of successful resuscitation and survival to hospital discharge. With each minute that defibrillation is delayed, the chances of successful resuscitation decrease by 2% to 10%.2 It is therefore vital that defibrillation be attempted as early as possible.

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