Manual Defibrillators are the definitive treatment for the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia's, ventricular fibrillation and pulse-less ventricular tachycardia. Defibrillation consists of delivering a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the affected heart with a device called a defibrillator. This depolarizes a critical mass of the heart muscle, terminates the arrhythmia, and allows normal sinus rhythm to be reestablished by the body's natural pacemaker, in the sinoatrial node of the heart.
The Manual External Defibrillator are used in conjunction with (or more often have inbuilt) electrocardiogram readers, which the healthcare provider uses to diagnose a cardiac condition (most often fibrillation or tachycardia although there are some other rhythms which can be treated by different shocks). The healthcare provider will then decide what charge (in joules) to use, based on proven guidelines and experience, and will deliver the shock through paddles or pads on the patient's chest. As they require detailed medical knowledge, these units are generally only found in hospitals and on some ambulances. For instance, every NHS ambulance in the United Kingdom is equipped with a manual defibrillator for use by the attending paramedics and technicians. In the United States, many advanced EMTs and all paramedics are trained to recognize lethal arrhythmia's and deliver appropriate electrical therapy with a manual defibrillator when appropriate.
Are defibrillators considered life support equipment? Answer: "The following definition appears in the glossary of the JCAHO 2009 Comprehensive Accreditation Manual:
Life Support Equipment: Any device used for the purpose of sustaining life and whose failure to perform its primary function, when used according to manufacturer’s instructions and clinical protocol, will lead to patient death in the absence of immediate intervention (examples include ventilators, heart-lung bypass machines).
Defibrillation is a response to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. Defibrillation consists of delivering a therapeutic dose of electricity to the affected heart with a defibrillator. The dose of electricity restores a normal heart rhythm, allowing the heart to continue to function in the patient. Therefore, the Joint Commission considers defibrillators life support equipment.
As it is required that organizations maintain an inventory of all medical equipment or selected medical equipment categorized by physical risk associated with use (including all life support equipment), defibrillators must be included in an organization's medical equipment inventory.
Maintenance activities then must be identified for equipment on the inventory. A maintenance strategy for defibrillators could include a range of activities from a visual inspection of the single-use AED (automatic external defibrillator) to the daily testing of a defibrillator in clinical use settings based on organization policy."
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- ↑ Joint Commission. "Defibrillators - Life Support or Non-life Support Equipment." 15 June 2009. http://www.jointcommission.org/mobile/standards_information/jcfaqdetails.aspx?StandardsFAQId=52&StandardsFAQChapterId=64