Purchasing Defibrillator for Association Use

July 26, 2012
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While it’s true that the FDA recommends that people have defibrillators on hand to help someone in case of a heart attack, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your association should consider buying one and training someone, such as a board member, in how to use it. That’s because, although having a defibrillator on hand might seem like a good idea, it's so fraught with liability risks that community association experts often advise against it—even if your state has laws protecting the association from liability.

First, someone must be trained in the proper use of a defibrillator. If the person uses it wrong and injures or kills someone, the association could be sued for having inadequately trained the person. Also, someone must be responsible for maintaining the defibrillator and making sure it's in working order. If the equipment malfunctions, the association could be liable. The association could also be liable if the person designated to respond to members' emergency calls for the defibrillator is late in arriving.

Some states' laws protect good Samaritans from civil liability stemming from the use of a defibrillator, but even in those states, risks remain. If the person designated by the association to operate the defibrillator uses it incorrectly, the association could be liable. The idea may sound good at first, but because of the tremendous risk of liability involved, associations would be wise to contact their attorneys about the “good Samaritan” laws in their state before purchasing a defibrillator.