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Friday 11:20 CST, April 18, 2014

Standards FAQ Details

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Environment of Care (CAMCAH / Critical Access Hospitals)


Defibrillators - Life Support or Non-life Support Equipment
Current | June 15, 2009
Q. Are defibrillators considered life support equipment?

A. The following definition appears in the glossary of the 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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