A Cabinet meeting yesterday approved an amendment to the Emergency Medical Service Act (緊急醫療救護法) in a bid to provide easy access to vital emergency treatment to decrease non-traumatic sudden deaths.
In accordance with the proposed amendment, pending legislative approval, the Department of Health (DOH) called for the installation of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public venues.
AEDs are used to restart a heart that is not beating, or is beating with an irregular rhythm.
The amendment also proposed the exemption of non-medical professionals from any legal responsibility under the Civil Code and the Criminal Code to relieve their concerns that they could be held accountable for any consequences of conducting the emergency treatment.
According to health officials, each year, an average of 20,000 non-traumatic patients with an irregular heartbeat arrive at hospitals.
The use of automated external defibrillators by medical professionals in ambulances has raised the survival rate for non-traumatic patients from less than 1 percent to 5 percent, the officials said.
In Japan, where AEDs have been installed in designated public venues, the survival rate for non-traumatic patients has risen to 38 percent.
However, the use of AEDs in Japan has also shown that the lack of exemption of legal responsibility deters non-medical professional from trying to help patients in need of first aid, the officials added.
The DOH said that Taiwan should apply the “good Samaritan laws” adopted in the US and Canada to protect the general public from undue liability during rescue attempts done in good faith.