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The AED at my school isnít accessible to me, so am I liable if I donít use it in a cardiac emergency?

Friday March 16, 2012
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Dear Nancy,

I am a school nurse and there is an AED on campus, but it is not in a place I can access. If there is a cardiac emergency and I donít use the AED, am I liable?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Lisa,

The use of AEDs in the school setting is becoming more common; indeed, in some states it is required under the school code or a similar statute. However, it is of little use if it is not accessible and if it cannot be used when needed.

Experts in school health, including the National Association of School Nurses, have published information and guidelines about AEDs for school nurses and school settings. These organizations suggest there be a clear policy about the use of AEDs, training of school personnel to correctly use an AED, and coordination with EMS entities within the school district, among other helpful recommendations.

There is a great deal of information available on the Internet and in articles dealing with AEDs in the schools. There are two resources you might want to review to begin with. One is the American Heart Associationís Statement, ďResponse to Cardiac Arrest and Selected Life-Threatening Medical Emergencies: The Medical Emergency Response Plan for SchoolsĒ (Hazinski and others, 2004). This publication is available on the AANA website (www.nasn.org). Click on the Policy and Advocacy tab, then under Position Papers and Reports, click the Endorsed and Joint Statement link, then click on ďResponse to Cardiac Arrest and Selected-Life Threatening Medical Emergencies.Ē

The second resource is available in the NASN Newsletter, ďAEDs at School: What are the Issues?Ē (Jackson, July 2002).


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.