A defibrillator is a device that allows the application of electrical shocks to restore normal heart rhythm. It is a sudden high-voltage discharge that manages to interrupt and reverse an arrhythmia (the irregular rhythm of the heart’s contractions). See Abbreviation Finder for acronyms related to Defibrillator.
When there is an alteration in the electrical activity or the number of beats that the heart makes increases excessively, cardiac arrest is possible. This is because the heart beats too much and disorganized, not pumping blood properly . To avoid reaching this outcome, a doctor can resort to a defibrillator that, by means of an electric shock, stops the arrhythmia. Once this is done, the professional is in a position to detect the cause that caused the arrhythmia and to solve the problem so that the patient regains stability.
The use of the defibrillator can even be preventive: if an individual with a history of infarction shows ventricular malfunction, this device can be used to minimize the risk of arrhythmia and, therefore, of a new cardiac arrest.
It is important to keep in mind that there are different types of defibrillators. External defibrillators are machines that, when necessary, are placed on the skin to deliver the electrical shock. Implantable defibrillators, on the other hand, are definitive and are implanted under the skin through a surgical intervention.
Implantable defibrillators, thanks to their electrodes, allow diagnosing arrhythmias from inside the body and defibrillating the heart, when necessary. External defibrillators, on the other hand, are handled by doctors, who must define in each case how and when the electric shock is applied.
In the case of the semi-automated external defibrillator, it is necessary to perform a maintenance service with a certain frequency to guarantee the best possible performance in each use. Depending on the specific characteristics of each device, the habits of each user and the intensity with which it is used, the period between one maintenance session and another may vary; Generally, it is carried out annually, but there are also those who carry it out after each intervention.
Maintenance should not be downplayed as it is on the same level as the professional training required to use it; It is useless to be a medical expert if the device is not in good condition in the middle of an emergency. It is worth mentioning that the maintenance should not be done by the doctors themselves, but they have the possibility of hiring a team of people specifically dedicated to this task.
The defibrillator is widely used in various parts of the world, although the regulation of its use and the obligations of each establishment are different. In the European Union, for example, its implantation is more prominent in Germany, England, France and the Netherlands. It is common for there to be a law that imposes the installation of these devices in various public buildings with the aim of reducing the number of deaths from sudden cardiac arrest. This is the trend of most of the countries of the European continent, although the reality in each one can still vary.
If we focus on Spain, for example, there is currently a regulation that requires all airports, sports centers, educational institutes, complexes dedicated to commerce and common areas within hospitals, among other places that are highly visited by the public, to place defibrillators available, so that they are easily accessible in case of an emergency.
Despite said regulations at the national level, a Royal Decree of 2009 established that each Community can decide on the implementation of these devices in a particular way and the use that the public can give them.