Public access defibrillation

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Purpose of review

To review the current status of the use of automated external defibrillators by lay persons, a concept known as public access defibrillation.

Recent findings

Public access defibrillation is a relatively new strategy in the management of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The rationale is clear– to enable defibrillation with the minimum of delay, before the arrival of the emergency medical services. Impressive results have been reported when automated external defibrillators are installed in high-risk locations. Only few arrests occur in such busy public places, however, and strategies to use public access defibrillation to treat a majority of arrests that occur at home are not so well defined. At present, no clear evidence is available to guide the comprehensive implementation of public access defibrillation in communities.


Public access defibrillation can save lives but further studies are required to define the optimal placement and use of automated external defibrillators in communities and the training of the personnel who use them.

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