As a dental staff member, patients trust you with their lives. In event of a cardiac arrest, CPR can only take you so far.
The chance of a patient surviving increases dramatically if you use an automated external defibrillator (AED). In a March 2018 study, those who got a shock from a bystander using a publicly available AED were more than twice as likely to survive and leave the hospital as those who didn’t.
Convinced you need an AED at your practice? If so, consider these six factors:
Upfront costs of AEDs range from $1,200 to $1,900, depending on features. That doesn’t tell the full story. Many cost variables influence cost of ownership.
Specifically, AED pads and batteries both expire—frequency of expiration depends on the AED manufacturer. Pads can last from two to four years and batteries can last from four to seven years.
While the core function of every AED is to analyze a rhythm and provide a shock, only half the times an AED is used will a shock be necessary. An AED that provides CPR feedback can increase its utility, even in non-Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) scenarios. Currently, there are two AEDs providing feedback to users: the Zoll AED and the Heartsine 450P. The Zoll provides feedback about depth of compressions while the Heartsine 450P provides feedback about the frequency of compressions.
When emergencies happen, it’s critical that you can clearly hear the instructions being provided to you. Some of the manufacturers have conducted extensive research into ensuring that their AEDs are able to be heard even in the noisiest environments.
AEDs vary in the amount of power they provide and have different upper limits to how many joules may be provided in a single shock. The typical range of AEDs is from 200 to 360 joules. AED manufacturers promote varying reports about the optimal energy output, so it’s worthwhile to learn the range and determine your preference.
This means that consecutive shocks increase in power. The argument for this approach is that low shocks may cause less harm, but variable impedance in patients means the minimum shocking power of one patient may be insufficient in another patient. Thus, increasing power in consecutive shocks will find the appropriate voltage for the patient.
Opinions abound about the benefit of escalating power so familiarize yourself with the risks and rewards of having escalating power in your AED.
Each AED has its own training approach. While there are benefits to using the training system that matches your AED, there are also economic options if the primary purpose is general education for your staff about the order of operations for using an AED.
A lot to consider! Keep in mind the most important factor is to simply have one. Your patients are counting on you to take care of their health, especially in the event of a medical emergency.