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August 9, 2006

Automated External Defibrillators—Device Reliability and Clinical Benefits

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, New England Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 2006;296(6):700-702. doi:10.1001/jama.296.6.700

Sudden cardiac arrest accounts for more than 300 000 deaths annually in the United States and is a leading cause of disability and health care costs.1-4 Successful resuscitation, survival, and optimal clinical outcomes depend on time to definitive treatment, primarily early defibrillation of ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation. A substantial body of evidence demonstrates improved survival resulting from reduced time to defibrillation with automated external defibrillators (AEDs).1-16 Increasing recognition of the clinical benefits of AEDs and minimal legal risks of ownership, medical oversight, or use have contributed to an exponential growth in AED use over the last decade.1,2,17 As lifesaving devices, AEDs require the highest possible standards of reliability. Despite careful design, engineering, and manufacturing, AEDs—like all electronic devices—have finite rates of component failures; however, prior analyses of AED reliability are notably limited.