The Health Information and Quality Authority has announced that it is to conduct a health technology assessment on the nationwide provision of public access defibrillators, for use in the event of an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

The HTA will look at the clinical and cost-effectiveness of different strategies to make automatic external defibrillators more widely available throughout the country.

The completed evaluation will be submitted to the Minister for Health James Reilly. 

HIQA's Director of Health Technology Assessment Dr Máirín Ryan said: "This work will examine various strategies around public access defibrillation in Ireland and evaluate how these potentially life-saving devices can be used in the event of a person having a cardiac arrest in a public place."

Dr Ryan added: "Published data indicate that between 2003 and 2008 the survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests ranged from 3% to 11%.

“This HTA will rigorously explore all of the factors around an expanded public access defibrillation programme aimed at improving survival rates."

An expert advisory group comprised of specialists from a broad range of disciplines has been convened to provide expert advice, support relevant parts of the evaluation and critically review the draft report.