Liability Protection for People Using Defibrillators
The Ontario government has passed legislation that will protect people from civil liability when they attempt to save a life using a public automated external defibrillator (AED).
An AED is a device that analyzes the heart rhythm of a person who has suffered cardiac arrest. It determines if the rhythm requires defibrillation and, if required, prompts the person using the AED to deliver a shock to restart the heart. Most AEDs are compact, easy to use and include visual and voice prompts which guide the user through the operation of the machine.
The Chase McEachern Act (Heart Defibrillator Civil Liability), 2007:
- Protects individuals from liability for damages that may occur in relation to their use of an AED to save someone’s life at the immediate scene of an emergency, unless damages are caused by gross negligence;
- Protects health care professionals from liability for damages that may occur in relation to their use of an AED to save someone’s life at the immediate scene of an emergency, unless damages are caused by gross negligence and unless the AED is used in a hospital or other place having appropriate health care facilities and equipment for the purpose of defibrillation;
- Protects owners and occupiers of premises on which an AED is installed from liability for any harm that may occur in relation to the use of the AED, provided that the owner or occupier made the AED available for use in good faith without gross negligence and properly maintained the defibrillator.
A number of Ontario communities are already installing AEDs in arenas, libraries, community buildings and other public places. It is hoped that ensuring protection from liability will provide the necessary reassurance and encourage other communities and facilities to install AEDs. The Act is intended to support public access to AEDs and encourage their use in order to save lives.