The Automated External Defibrillator


  • Dr. Rho received financial support from Medtronic Corporation.

  • Manuscript received 3 July 2006; Revised manuscript received 18 December 2006; Accepted for publication 8 January 2007.

  • Editor: Hugh Calkins, M.D.

Address for correspondence: Richard L. Page, M.D., University of Washington School of Medicine, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Health Science Building, Room AA510-A, Box 356422, Seattle, WA 98195-6422, USA. Fax: 206-616-4847; E-mail:


Sudden death claims 250,000 lives annually in the U.S. The vast majority of such events are due to ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. Even though these arrhythmias can be converted if treated promptly, less than 5% of victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive to hospitalization. This poor survival is often due to delay in the initiation of quality CPR and defibrillation. Several clinical studies have evaluated the use of an AED by nontraditional emergency medical providers and by laypersons in Public Access Defibrillation programs. These studies have demonstrated a significant improvement in survival due to earlier access to defibrillation provided by the AED. The AED has proven to be safe, reliable, and efficacious in the diagnosis and treatment of ventricular arrhythmias when employed by lay providers/rescuers in a variety of outpatient settings. Society has embraced these data and legislation has been passed that supports the implementation of PAD programs into communities and protects lay rescuers and organizations implementing these programs from liability. Concerns about cost versus benefit still serve as barriers to widespread implementation of PAD programs, but with the declining cost of AEDs and increased public awareness, many communities have initiated PAD programs. We encourage widespread implementation of PAD programs and enhanced public awareness about basic life support, with the expectation that such efforts will enhance survival of out of hospital cardiac arrest.