Switched Paddle Positions in Defibrillation: What You Need to Know

What happens if the paddle positions are switched during defibrillation?

A. It may affect the effectiveness of the treatment
B. It will improve the success rate of defibrillation
C. It will not make any difference in the treatment outcome

Answer:

If the paddle positions are switched during defibrillation, it could affect the effectiveness of the treatment due to less optimal contact with the heart and confusion for the operator, especially in the use of AEDs.

When the paddle positions are switched during defibrillation, it may impact the effectiveness of the treatment. The defibrillator paddles are designed for specific placement, with the apex paddle shaped to fit around the apex of the heart and the sternum paddle being broad for application on the sternum.

Defibrillation is performed to reestablish a normal sinus rhythm in a person with fibrillation, which is an irregular heart rhythm. The paddles deliver a short, strong burst of electricity across the chest to disrupt the arrhythmia and allow the heart's natural pacemaker to resume normal patterns. Incorrect positioning of the paddles may lead to less optimal contact with the heart, compromising the electricity transmission and potentially reducing the defibrillation's effectiveness.

Moreover, this reversal could confuse the operator, especially in emergency scenarios where automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are used by inexperienced individuals. The AED provides verbal prompts to guide the user, specifically mentioning the correct placement of the paddles. Switching the positions might cause a delay or incorrect operation, which could be harmful to the patient.

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