Recent studies have associated interruptions of cardiopulmonary resuscitation imposed by automated external defibrillators (AEDs) with poor resuscitation outcome. In particular, the “hands-off” interval between precordial compressions and subsequent defibrillation shock has been implicated. We sought to determine the range of variation among current-generation AEDs with respect to this characteristic.
Seven AEDs from six manufacturers were characterized via stopwatch and arrhythmia simulator with respect to the imposed hands-off interval. All AEDs were equipped with new batteries, and measurements were repeated five times for each AED.
A wide variation in the hands-off interval between precordial compressions and shock delivery was observed, ranging from 5.2 to 28.4 secs, with only one AED achieving an interruption of <10 secs. Laboratory and clinical data suggest that this range of variation could be responsible for a more than two-fold variation in patient resuscitation success, an effect that far exceeds any defibrillation efficacy differences that may hypothetically exist.
In addition to defibrillation waveform and dose, researchers should consider the hands-off cardiopulmonary resuscitation interruption interval between cardiopulmonary resuscitation and subsequent defibrillation shock to be an important covariate of outcome in resuscitation studies. Defibrillator design should minimize this interval to avoid potential adverse consequences on patient survival.