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Risk Management - Defibrillators in Hotels.

Posted 3/31/2019




To install an AED or not to install an AED—that is the question. And it's not as cut and dry as you may think. Because annually in the US, more than 375,000 people suffer Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) outside a hospital setting, Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) are popping up everywhere to reduce the risk of death. Sudden Cardiac Arrest occurs suddenly and without warning and may affect anyone, even the young and healthy, who are asymptomatic.

An AED is a small, portable device that has been FDA-approved for public use. When used properly, it discharges an electrical shock that allows the normal heart rhythm to regenerate. If CPR is performed immediately and defibrillation initiated within 1–2 minutes, a person’s survival rate may approach 70–80%.


Most hotels are not required by law to provide AEDs, either for their guests or employees. About 20 states now require AEDs in health clubs, but hotel fitness centers are generally excluded, except in some states, like Massachusetts. The state of New York requires an AED in any building that has a meeting room, banquet facility, or ballroom with a capacity of 1,000 or more. While there is no widespread federal law requiring AEDs, then general trend is that more states are adopting laws, as the American Heart Association reports that 200,000 people per year could be save with AEDs.

However, hotel operators may worry that if they have the devices available they could be sued for failing to have enough units, failing to put them in the right places, or failing to replace batteries or maintain them properly. Another concern is hotel worker training and application. AED advocates argue that the growing trend toward AED programs may eventually increase liability for companies and facilities not prepared to respond appropriately to a cardiac emergency.


When assessing risk, it is important for your organization to consult with your own legal advisors. There is also information available from the American Heart Association, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the Emergency Care Research Institute. The following info will also help you to set up protocol standards and understand the liabilities associated with AED use.


Top Recommendations:


  • When buying AEDs for your hotel, contact the manufacturers’ representatives and request plenty of info about different AEDs. For each device that seems to meet your needs, ask a sales representative to meet with you to demonstrate the device and answer questions.
  • Prepare your questions for your visit with the representative. Be sure to review in detail each of the features listed, plus information such as warranties, service contracts, liability coverage, etc.
  • Before purchasing, check in with your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Before establishing a program, determine any requirements, such as an application or filing a facility’s plan to respond to a cardiac emergency.


  • Train the staff! Anyone expected to use an AED should be trained in its use, and in CPR. Certification is even better.
  • The American Heart Association offers the Heartsaver AED course, which is available through Community Training Centers in most cities.
  • Place AEDs in a location near the trained staff members, so any victim can be reached in less than 3 minutes, and near a telephone.
  • Notify all hotel personnel and local EMS of AED locations.
  • When placing AEDs, consider whether trained rescuers will have to use more than one elevator. If so, consider locating AEDs at different levels for better access.


  • Use and maintain AEDs according to the manufacturer’s specifications. All AEDs work in a similar fashion, but it’s important for users to be trained to use their specific device.
  • AEDs require fairly low upkeep, but regularly scheduled maintenance will ensure their “readiness” in the event of an emergency. Schedule battery changes and other maintenance.

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