Today’s question is about:
A community group [that] is considering buying a defibrillator and they wish to know two things.
- If they purchase a defib is there a requirement to place the defib on a register so members of the public know there is a defib onsite.
- If the defib is used off the school grounds by the public and the defib is broken or malfunctions who is responsible for the repairs?
There is no ‘requirement to place the defib on a register so members of the public know there is a defib onsite’. Registering is a good idea but a good idea does not necessarily bring legal obligation. See the links, below, for registers operated by:
If you own something you are responsible for repairs and maintenance. You can look to others to reimburse the costs if they negligently damage something or where there is a contractual obligation (think of hire cars that make a driver responsible for all sorts of damage even in the absence of negligence).
If someone takes a defibrillator because they need to use it and its broken or malfunctions the owner is responsible for it.
If the person who takes it breaks it, then the owner may be able to ask them to pay for it, but one does have to imagine that would be pretty unreasonable if they took it because it was needed. Asking someone to pay would not only discourage people from trying to save a life, the claim would also (in most cases) be defeated by relevant state ‘good Samaritan’ legislation (and yes, I know it’s not actually called the Good Samaritan Act in any state or territory, but that is a shorthand or colloquial term for the legislation – you can find the actual legislation here – ‘good Samaritan’ legislation).
The cost of trying to ask a person who took an AED in order to try to save someone’s life to pay for damage to the AED would far exceed the cost of just buying a new AED.
In short, my answers are:
2) The owner.
Michael, I interested in your comment “or malfunctions the owner is responsible for it.” the level of liability associated with a malfunction, ie the unit malfunctioned and the patient subsequently did not survive where there is a contentious opinion that had the unit worked correctly there was a probability the patient may have survived.
Your thoughts please.
The question I was asked was ‘who is responsible for the repairs?’ and that is what I addressed.
Establishing some sort of liability on the basis that had the AED worked it would have saved the life would be almost (never say never) impossible. The provider of the AED did not cause the person to have a cardiac arrest; if the AED doesn’t work it has not made things worse for the patient so it’s not the cause of any losses; if there’s no legal duty to provide an AED there can’t be a legal duty to provide one that works; proving, on the balance of probabilities, that an AED would have led to a different outcome would be impossible.
For further discussion see:
Do note that my answer may be different if the AED is held at a workplace. Where the workplace has done a risk assessment under WHS laws and determined that an AED is required to address risks in its work place and is part of the workplace emergency equipment; and where it is not maintained in accordance with manufacturers instructions. But that’s not about an AED, that’s about a workplace being required to supply and maintain safety equipment and it’s not about civil liability for damages but about duties under WHS law. In that context the AED is like any other piece of workplace equipment that has to be maintained.
Better an AED available and ‘have a go’ than not
Here on Kangaroo Island we’ve trained over 20% of community in ‘hands only’ CPR and established 37 Public Access Defibs
We register them with St John, SA Ambulance and of course GoodSAMapp
Just do it
Hi and in Victoria if it’s registered with ambulance Vic they will pay for replacement consumables. Pads charging unit etc thanks
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Thanks for the article Who should buy the replacement pads
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That question implies its own answer (in my view). There are three options. Assume the AED is taken and used. The three options of who should buy the replacement pads are:
1) the owner;
2) the owner asks the person who took the AED to use it for the very purpose for which it was bought to buy them; or
3) the owner asks the person who it was used on (or their estate) to buy them.
When you put it that way options (2) and (3) strike me as both unreasonable and impossible. If you buy an AED you buy it to be used and if it is used you celebrate that and restock it. Not send letters of demand to the person who used it, or the person who benefited it, to pay for the pads. If you were a community group you would have to ask how the report of that would look in the local paper the next day.
I do note that another commentator has said that if you register your defibrillator with Ambulance Victoria, they’ll supply or pay for replacement pads.