Resuscitation with an AED: putting the data to use

M. A.R. Bak*, M. T. Blom, R. W. Koster, M. C. Ploem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


The increased use of the automated external defibrillator (AED) contributes to the rising survival rate after sudden cardiac arrest in the Netherlands. When used, the AED records the unconscious person’s medical data (heart rhythm and information about cardiopulmonary resuscitation), which may be important for further diagnosis and treatment. In practice, ethical and legal questions arise about what can and should be done with these ‘AED data’. In this article, the authors advocate the development of national guidelines on the handling of AED data. These guidelines should serve two purposes: (1) to safeguard that data are handled carefully in accordance with data protection principles and the rules of medical confidentiality; and (2) to ensure nationwide availability of data for care of patients who survive resuscitation, as well as for quality monitoring of this care and for related scientific research. Given the medical ethical duties of beneficence and fairness, existing (sometimes lifesaving) information about AED use ought to be made available to clinicians and researchers on a structural basis. Creating a national AED data infrastructure, however, requires overcoming practical and organisational barriers. In addition, further legal study is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-185
Number of pages7
JournalNetherlands Heart Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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