More doubts over value of defibrillators

December 04, 2003

Use of defibrillators by police and fire fighters to emergency calls shows only a modest benefit, finds a study in this week's BMJ. A second study shows that public place defibrillators are not good value for money.

In the first study, defibrillators were provided to one fire brigade region and two police districts in and around Amsterdam. Half of the fire brigade region and police districts served as the control area. Every four months the experimental and control areas changed over.

Use of defibrillators did not significantly increase survival to hospital discharge, although it did improve return of spontaneous circulation and admission to hospital. The authors suggest that improved dispatch procedures should increase the success of the programme.

In the second study, researchers calculated the cost efficiency of locating defibrillators in all major airports, railway stations, and bus stations across Scotland.

They concluded that public place defibrillators exceed the commonly used cut-off levels for funding and represent poorer value for money than some alternative strategies.
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BMJ

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