Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

January 6, 1999
Contact: Dave Nelson
(512)463-0112 or (972)724-0066


AUSTIN - People who use the defibrillator, a lifesaving medical device that restarts the heart after cardiac arrest, would be shielded from lawsuits in Texas under a bill filed yesterday by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound.

Senate Bill 122 would expand the Good Samaritan Law to provide immunity for those who use these devices - which are technically called automatic external defibrillators - at the scene of an emergency, as long as they have been properly trained.

The bill would not only help police officers and paramedics but everyday citizens who are trained to use this equipment, including flight attendants who have defibrillators available during flights.

More than 350,000 Americans a year (more than 1,000 a day) are killed by cardiac arrest, but experts say that number could be reduced by about 20,000 if defibrillators were more readily available. People survive cardiac arrest 4 percent of the time, but the Mayo Clinic estimates a survival rate of up to 90 percent if a defibrillator is used within two to three minutes of the arrest.

"The number of deaths from cardiac arrest do not need to be as high as they are. This device is a true life-saver, and those good Samaritans who use it to help others should be applauded, not penalized. I hope people look at this bill as a public health issue instead of a liability issue", Nelson said.