AED Safety Considerations Electrical Shock Recent tests have shown that if the patient’s chest is dry and the pads are stuck to the chest correctly, the risk of electric shock is very low, because the electricity only wants to travel from one pad to the other, not to ‘earth’ like mains electricity. To be extra safe however, briefly check that nobody is touching the patient before delivering a shock.
DO NOT delay defibrillation because the patient is on a wet or metal surface – providing the chest is dry it is safe to deliver the shock. Medication Patches Some patients wear a patch to deliver medication (such as a nicotine patch). Some heart patients wear a ‘glyceryl tri-nitrate’ (GTN) patch. This type of patch can explode if electricity is passed through it, so remove any visible medication patches as a precaution before delivering the shock.
Highly Flammable Atmosphere There is a danger of the AED creating a spark when the shock is delivered, so it should not be used in a highly flammable atmosphere (in the presence of petrol fumes for example). Jewellery Take care not to place the pads over jewellery such as a necklace. This would conduct the electricity and burn the patient.
There is no need to remover pierced jewellery, but try to avoid placing pads over it. Implanted Devices Certain heart patients may have a pacemaker or defibrillator implanted. You can often see or feel them under the skin when the chest is exposed and there may be a scar.
They are usually implanted just below the left collar bone, which is not in the way of the AED pads, but if a device has been implanted elsewhere, avoid placing the pad directly over it. Inappropriate Shock AEDs are proven to analyse heart rhythms extremely accurately, however the patient needs to be motionless whilst the AED does this.
Do not use an AED on a patient who is fitting (violent jerking movements) and ensure vehicle engines or vibrating machinery are switched off whenever possible.