Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Hotels Resist Having Defibrillators

“If your heart stops suddenly, you may not want to be at a hotel. Automated external defibrillators -- laptop-sized devices that can automatically restart a heart after sudden cardiac arrest -- are now required equipment on commercial airliners and have saved lives at airports, casinos, health clubs and many public buildings. But hotels have resisted installing them, citing potential liability issues. Global Hyatt Corp. says just roughly 20% of its properties have AEDs -- though that number is increasing. Choice Hotels International Inc. says ‘very few’ of its hotels are equipped. InterContinental Hotels Group PLC says it doesn't require its hotels to have AEDs ‘but the matter is currently under review,’ a spokeswoman says. Marriott International Inc., Hilton Hotels Corp. and Best Western International Inc. all declined to say how many of their hotels have AED devices. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. didn't comment. Expedia Inc. says of the 53,000 hotels that can extensively spell out their amenities on its site, about 7,000 hotels, or 13%, list "medical assistance available," which can include an AED or other services. ‘At a five-star hotel, are they really giving the best service they can to their guests if they don't have an AED?’ asked Maureen O'Connor, public-access defibrillation program manager in San Diego, where a county program to push AED installation has run into resistance from hotels. Hotels worry that if they have the devices, which cost about $1,200 to $2,000 each, they could be sued for failing to have enough units, failing to put them in the right places, or failing to replace batteries or maintain them properly. Another concern: hotel worker training. ‘Our goal is to make sure guests in medical distress are treated by trained personnel, such as EMTs or paramedics,’ says a spokesman for Marriott. The American Hotel and Lodging Association, the trade group for the hotel industry, raised the potential liability issue in a legal-issues briefing to members, though it says it hasn't taken an official position. ’This type of exposure is known as the 'no good deed goes unpunished' exposure,’ the group told its members. ‘None of those arguments could be made if you had no AED at all.’”


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