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Photo: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/three-patients-week-wake-up-4192544

According to USA Today, statistics indicate that approximately 1 million stents are inserted into the hearts of Americans each year. One million. Stents. You know – stents. Those little lifesaver meshed puffy things, that prop open the arteries in one’s heart. Not for fashion. Nor for fun.

Photo: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/three-patients-week-wake-up-4192544
Photo: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/three-patients-week-wake-up-4192544

For life – as in – to save a life.

Mathematically, at most hospitals where the procedure of inserting the stent into the heart (also called an angioplasty) is performed, that 1 million stent installation procedures shakes out to approximately 20 such surgeries per day.

defibs-and-aeds-shadowsIt may fairly be suggested then, that Americans have a problem with clogging arteries. From whence comes this phenomenon and subsequent dilemma? Perhaps the answer to that could get us closer to solutions – and then again, perhaps not. So what is so important about the popularity of stents that they are showing up in a sports and recreation blog? The easy answer is that Americans need to exercise more. Play sports more often. Get out and enjoy recreation. Get off the couch or away from the computer – and enjoy the outdoors! But – that is a tertiary point.

The primary message of this is for sports and recreation providers…and here’s where it starts: AEDs are the new normal. The AED, or automated external defibrillator, is a transportable electronic mechanism that deploys a brief electroshock to restore normal function in someone experiencing cardiac arrest. In a cardiac emergency event, the AED is the tool designed for use by an ordinary layperson responding to such an event. Interestingly, such events have become so commonplace that AED instruction has become a standard in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification training. At present, what is considered “reasonable care” in a serious or life-threatening cardiac event is still dependent upon the nature of the relationship between the caregiver and the injured party. Accordingly, failure to utilize an available AED would not necessarily rise to the level of liability for negligence.

However, in the legal arena, and in the near future, this narrowly construed disposition may undergo refined change. In effect, the duty element of a negligence claim against a service provider will likely be amplified to include correct and appropriate use of AEDs. Furthermore, it has even been suggested that AED use may become so ubiquitous that an AED would be used by any reasonable person, in virtually any circumstance where use of an AED is called for – thus broadening and amplifying the duty element even further!

So, there are several take-aways from all this – and for starters, here’s a few to consider…

  • Sports and recreation management and the law are inextricably linked – maybe we already knew this, but a reminder of never hurts.
  • Always be diligent to know the full extent of your duty, and be diligent to fulfill your whole duty
  • Consider AEDs – for purchase, training, availability, and for use
  • Healthy living requires a person to be both intentional and strategic.

References:

Szabo, L. (2013, August 7). Stents open clogged arteries of 1M annually. USA TODAY. Available: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/08/06/bush-stent-heart-surgery/2623111/. Retrieved: October 5, 2016.

Kozlowski, J. C. (2016, June). Law Review: Legal relationship shapes AED use requirement. Park and Recreation Magazine. National Recreation and Park Association, pp. 32 – 38.

By Dr. Rodney J. Blackman

Dr. Blackman is the Chair of Recreation Management at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at rblackman@ussa.edu.

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