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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2004 March;124(1):11-22
Early semi-automatic defibrillation: ruling italian legislation and medico-legal implications
Fontana A., Zancaner S.
In the wake of English and American experience, semi-automatic defibrillators (automatic external defibrillator, AED) are becoming more and more widely used in Italy. These apparatus are capable of autonomously recognising a defibrillation rhythm and of emitting the life-saving discharge. The extreme simplicity of their operation and their high diagnostic sensitivity and specificity mean that they can also be used by non-medical staff (professional nurses) and, more extensively, by non-specialist first responders (first-aid volunteers, the police, fire fighters etc.), after appropriate training. Law no. 120/2001 passed in the interest of the community and subsequent directives of the state-regional conference held in 2003 have this same intention. The safety of the AED permits its use also by the men in the street, without specific obligations, who happen to find themselves in an emergency situation. For medical and paramedical personnel and for non-medical first responders trained to use the equipment, the use of the AED is absolutely mandatory otherwise they are indictable for crimes of refusal to carry out official duties, failure to assist and culpable homicide.