Defibrillators in GP Clinics Should be Standard

Why Every GP Office Needs a Defibrillator – Stat

Did you know that people that suffer a cardiac arrest (SCA) while in a GP clinic are twice as likely to survive if they are promptly defibrillated with an automated external defibrillator (AED) rather than waiting to be defibrillated after paramedics arrive? That’s according to the authors of research published today by the Medical Journal of Australia – and it means that placing AEDs in GP clinicsneeds to be a top priority for patient care.

Onsite AEDs are Key to Increasing Survival Rates

Although more than 25 000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are recorded in Australia each year, the mean survival rate to hospital discharge or 30 days is a tragic 12%. The main reason for this is that ambulances and emergency personnel are unlikely to reach a patient within the critical window for treatment and resuscitation, which is just a few minutes long. In fact, for every 1 minute that passes without treatment, the patient’s survival rate drops by 10%, so death can occur in just 10 minutes.

This means that, for survival rates to increase, treatment must take place on-site – and quickly. Defibrillators need to be available where the cardiac arrest occurs, and bystanders need to know exactly what to do.


Saving a Life is in the Hands of Bystanders

So, what steps do bystanders at a GP clinic need to take in order to supply potentially life-saving care?

“To effectively manage a patient experiencing a cardiac arrest, clinic staff must immediately undertake the initial steps in the ‘chain of survival’: call 000, provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and perform defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator (AED),” wrote the authors, led by Brian Haskins, a paramedic Lecturer at Monash University.

“Although clinic administrative staff must undertake cardiopulmonary resuscitation training every 3 years, accreditation by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners does not require general practices to have onsite AEDs.”

While CPR can help a patient in cardiac arrest survive for longer by pushing oxygen to the brain and organs, the only way to restart the heart is through defibrillation. The sooner a patient is defibrillated, the better, with early defibrillation, significantly improving patient outcomes, including survival and quality of life factors.

SCAs are Occurring in Our GP Clinics – It’s Essential to Be Prepared

Haskins and colleagues’ analysis data from the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry focussed on patients who had non-traumatic cardiac arrests who emergency medical services staff attempted to resuscitate, between 1 January 2000 and 30 December 2019.

They found 6363 cases of cardiac arrest: 216 in general practice clinics (3.4%) and 6147 witnessed by paramedics (96.6%).

“The proportion of general practice clinical cases in which defibrillation was provided in the clinic increased from 2 of 37 in 2000–2003 (5%) to 19 of 57 patients in 2016–2019 (33%),” they reported. Survival rates increased from 7 of 37 (19%) to 23 of 57 patients (40%).

“For patients with initial shockable rhythms, 57 of 126 patients in clinic cases (45%) and 1221 of 1929 people in paramedic-witnessed cases (63.3%) survived to hospital discharge; of 47 general practice patients defibrillated by clinic staff, 27 survived (57%).

“For patients with initial shockable rhythms, the odds of survival were greater following paramedic-witnessed events [adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 3.39) or general clinic arrests with defibrillation by clinic staff (aOR, 2.23) than for general practice clinic arrests in which arriving paramedics provided defibrillation.”

Haskins and colleagues called for the AEDs to be made standard equipment in general practice clinics to enable prompt defibrillation when required.

“We recommend that all patients with heart attack warning symptoms immediately call emergency medical services, and not visit general practice clinics,” they concluded.

“All general practice clinic staff should be trained to manage people having cardiac arrests, including in providing rapid defibrillation with an onsite AED. These measures could substantially reduce mortality for patients who have cardiac arrests in general practice clinics.”

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DefibsPlus can supply your GP clinic with state-of-the-art portable defibrillators, including HeartSine AEDs. In addition, we offer defibrillator training for your staff through our HeartSmart Program, which includes online or in-person training for individuals and groups. To make this life-saving investment more affordable, we also offer a subsidy.

For more information on our AED products and services or the DefibsPlus subsidy, call 1300 463 344 or use our online form to contact us today. Together, we can save lives.