Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risks

Recent studies have shed light on many risk factors related to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA); often a quick and silent killer.

Up to ninety percent of those who die from SCA have evidence of plaque (fat and cholesterol) in two or more major arteries. Plaque buildup leads to one common underlying cause: coronary artery disease.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risks

The Mayo Clinic (a medical research group) reports that because the link between coronary artery disease and SCA is so strong, the same factors that put you at risk of coronary artery disease also may put you at risk of SCA.

These include:

• Family history of coronary artery disease
• Smoking
• Hypertension
• High blood cholesterol
• Obesity
• Diabetes
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Alcohol (more than one to two drinks per day)
• Age (after 45 for men and 55 for women)
• Being male (2-3 times the risk)

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risks

The American Heart Association reports that Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risks can be caused by almost any known heart condition, they list the following specific factors that further increase the odds:

Scarring or enlargement of the heart from a previous heart attack or other causes can make someone more prone to developing life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.

Cardiomyopathy is a deterioration of the heart muscle; typically a root cause of SCA in athletes.

Heart medications, under certain conditions, can set the stage for arrhythmias that cause SCA. Antiarrhythmic drugs sometimes can produce lethal ventricular arrhythmias, even at normal doses.

Electrical abnormalities, such as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (a condition with an extra electrical pathway in the heart) and long QT syndrome (a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity) may cause SCA in children and young people.

Blood vessel abnormalities, particularly in the coronary arteries and aorta, may be present in young SCD victims. Adrenaline released during intense physical or athletic activity often acts as a trigger for SCA when these abnormalities are present.

Recreational drug use, even in people without organic heart disease, is a cause of SCA.

There are numerous risk factors related to SCA, but there are also ways to reduce the risk. Next week we will highlight some SCA prevention methods that you can incorporate into your everyday life. Don’t forget to check back!

Innovation in Allergic Treatment

The bout against allergic reactions just got a whole lot easier with a new breakthrough in epinephrine auto-injector design for Allergic Treatment.

For those with severe life-threatening allergic reactions, the Auvi-Q is a huge leap forward and has recently been approved by the FDA.

The Future of Allergic Treatment

How is the Auvi-Q different from a traditional auto-injector such as the EpiPen? The main advantages are the audio and visual cues. The Auvi-Q is the first voice-guided auto-injector; guiding users through every step of the injection process.

Auvi Q auto injector - Allergic Treatment

The Auvi-Q also sports a very slim profile that fits in a pocket or small purse. It is about the size of a credit card and no thicker than the average cell phone.

Along with a cutting edge design, the Auvi-Q has a retractable needle mechanism designed to help prevent accidental needle sticks after injection, the manufacturer states.

At Iridia, we support the advancement of medical technologies such as the Auvi-Q, as they give laypersons and medical professionals the tools to act swiftly in case of emergency.

Currently, the EMR protocol Iridia is working on with select fire departments around British Columbia involves the administration of traditional epinephrine auto-injectors. While these devices are very useful in treating anaphylaxis when first responders arrive at the scene, it would be ideal to have patients administer the dose themselves upon first identification of an allergic reaction. This is the goal of the Auvi-Q.

According to the manufacturer, approximately two thirds of patients and caregivers do not always carry their epinephrine auto-injector as recommended, and nearly half worry that others will not know how to use their device during an emergency.

Auvi Q

“The audio feature of this device is certainly unique,” Dr. Bassett added. “We are really looking forward to such a device in the allergy community. My hope is that the device will penetrate into the market of those individuals who do not currently carry an auto-injector with them.”

With the future of auto-injectors looking like the Auvi-Q injector, persons with severe allergic reactions will have the best treatment possible.

The product will be commercially available sometime after November 15 2012. Learn more about the Auvi-Q

AEDs in the Workplace

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can strike anywhere and at any time. It can happen to anyone: an employee in the workplace or a shopper in a mall.

The only effective treatment for SCA is early defibrillation with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

In North America, more people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest than from breast cancer, prostate cancer, AIDS, handgun incidents, and traffic accidents combined.

In Canada, this amounts to 35,000 to 45,000 lives lost every year. Although AEDs are not legally required in Canadian workplaces, many organizations have implemented AED programs citing the benefits of risk reduction for employees and customers.

AEDs in the Workplace

AEDs in the Workplace

To maximize the value of your AED and exceed the recommendations for WorkSafeBC and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Iridia can provide you with our medical direction package for your AEDs in the workplace, which includes the following components:

  • Emergency Medical Response Procedures – Working with you, we will provide formal procedures to enhance your current plan with the addition of the AED.
  • Physician Consult – You will be able to consult with an Iridia physician who will answer any medical/response questions from your AED response providers.
  • Emergency Health Services Liaison – Iridia will send letters to the nearest Ambulance station and the Fire Department to inform them of your AED program.
  • Post Incident Call Review – Should your facility experience an event where the AED is used, an Iridiaphysician will review the data from the AED and provide reports as needed to British Columbia Ambulance Service and your local hospital. In addition, you will be provided with a written Call Summary Report of the incident which will assist you with continuous quality improvement in your program.
  • Operational Debriefing/Critical Incident Stress – Iridia can arrange for an operational debriefing with the providers who manage a cardiac arrest event to reassure them of their actions. We can also advise management about best practices to provide appropriate emotional and psychological support. If you do not have an employee assistance program, Iridia can also liaise with WorkSafe BC who will coordinate critical incident interventions for work-related traumatic events.

The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation contains legal requirements that must be met by all workplaces under the inspection jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC. Many sections of the Regulation have associated guidelines and policies.

Please follow the link to read the complete WorkSafeBC guidelines and policies for having an AEDs in the workplace.

For more information about AEDs in the workplace, visit WorkSafeBC’s AED Guidelines


Innovation Corner – Windows 7 Shortcuts


What’s the Innovation Corner?

Windows 7 Shortcuts

Innovation is one of our eight core values at Iridia, values we strive to live every day. It’s one thing to say “innovation is a corporate value of ours,” but it’s another to live it.

We are always keeping our sharp eyes on the lookout; finding creative ways to fit the pieces together. In order to “fit pieces together,” we need to do things more efficiently and, if possible, with the use of new tools.

The Innovation Corner is a brief (5 min.) section of the agenda dedicated to the introduction of a story, a tool, a concept, or anything else that might spur on innovation within our team.  Anyone can lay claim to the Innovation Corner in upcoming meetings, and thereby use it to share an innovative find they have come across.

Windows 7 Shortcuts

windows shortcut

Windows 7 Shortcuts

This week Innovation Corner focused on Windows 7 Shortcuts – everyday tips to make life easier. 

It’s a reality – most people do not use Windows to its full potential. Built into this powerful operating system are numerous shortcuts that will help you in your day-to-day activities. Whether at work or at home, a shortcut can simplify your task list.

Want to work efficiently as possible? We have created a simple list of shortcuts that anyone can use:

  • Snaps
  • Jump Lists
  • Show Desktop
  • Repeating
  • Changing Cases
  • Sharing Workbooks
  • Horizontal Pages

Check out our Windows 7 Shortcuts Prezi to see a short presentation highlighting these shortcuts.

Like these? They are just the tip of the iceberg. Google windows shortcuts and you will find many more!


Defibrillator Liability: Do You Have All the Facts?


Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) strikes over 45,000 Canadians per year. The only proven treatment for SCA victims is early defibrillation. If no defibrillation is administered within ten minutes of the attack, the chances for survival approach zero.

The latest guidelines from the Heart & Stroke Foundation call for lay responders trained in the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s) as well as CPR.

Organizations that implement early defibrillation programs demonstrate a commitment to the advancement of public health and the welfare of their staff and co-workers.

Defibrillator Liability

Defibrillator Liability

As medical technologies go, public access to defibrillation is relatively new and it is not uncommon for people worrying that novel plans may lead to unexpected problems: problems that can land them in court.

The truth is that legal liability risks associated with early defibrillation programs are remote. Liability concerns should not deter those considering the purchase and use of an AED.

Relevant trial court verdicts suggest that organizations that adopt AED programs face a lower liability risk than those that do not. This includes the US states of Florida and California, which have the highest medical litigation rates in North America.

Many provinces also have laws that limit the types and scope of negligence lawsuits permissible against individuals who render emergency medical care including tort limitation, Good Samaritan laws and a variety of immunity laws.

Defibrillator Liability and the Law

Only two US cases on record directly address the issue of early defibrillation by non-healthcare professionals¹, and both complaints alleged negligence for not having an AED available. Because they were both dismissed on technical grounds, neither case offers much guidance on how future appellate courts might address issues surrounding public access defibrillation.

Future trial court cases will likely revolve around society’s view of reasonableness when businesses are faced with ill or injured patrons.

Courts examining notions of reasonableness in other medical contexts have historically resisted requiring businesses faced with ill or injured patrons to do anything more than summon an ambulance. However, the AED legal and regulatory landscape is evolving.

Action (or inaction) that the courts view as reasonable today may be viewed as unreasonable tomorrow.

Advances in AED technology, their relatively low cost and the now proven ability of these devices to save lives may persuade trial and appellate courts to sanction businesses that do not adopt AED programs.²

A Word on Causation

Defibrillator Liability

A successful negligence lawsuit involving defibrillator liability requires proof that the alleged misconduct caused legally recognized damages such as death or injury. That means any case will allege harm through one of three possible causation theories:

  • Failure to purchase and make available an AED
  • Failure to use an available AED
  • Improper use of an available AED

Businesses that do not deploy AEDs at the scene of an SCA are at the greatest risk in terms of proof of causation.

Next in order of risk are those situations in which an AED is available but not used or improperly used. Modern AEDs are both easy to use and difficult to misuse. These systems have been extensively tested in thousands of cases without a single recorded case of accidental shock. Companies that purchase and train their staff to properly use AEDs assume the lowest causation risk.

Left untreated, a sudden cardiac arrest will always kill the victim. A properly used AED can only help. Therefore, proving medical causation of harm in any early defibrillation case would be extremely difficult.

The most likely causation question to be considered is whether death could have been prevented with –not caused by– the availability and use of an AED.

Minimizing Legal Defibrillator Liability

There are a variety of ways to manage the lawsuit liability risks associated with early defibrillation programs:

1. Design a careful program

The development of a detailed plan for having a trained rescuer quickly arrive at the side of an injured or sick person will reduce the stress burden of any responder, and lead to improvements in administering care.

General rules governing negligence cases suggest organizations that implement a plan for their early defibrillation programs face lower legal liability risks than those that do not.

2. Promote Good Samaritan laws

Most provinces have Good Samaritan laws³ that protect individuals from legal liability flowing from the provision of emergency medical care.

A growing number of laws specifically protect responders to medical emergencies from legal liability under certain circumstances. A review of local laws will help determine whether, and to what degree, liability immunity protection exists.


Certain types of businesses can actually reduce their exposure to claims of negligence by adopting an AED program.

The notion held by many companies that buying and deploying AEDs increases risk is not borne out in the courts. No one in North America who had used an AED to render aid has ever been sued for that deployment. Moreover, liability risks impacting businesses that implement AED programs can be further reduced by Good Samaritan laws.

Having an early defibrillation program is the right thing for business and the lower risk option to not having one.

Iridia can provide any organization with the components for a comprehensive AED Program including acquisition of the AED and its accessories; physician-led training and certification, response planning and oversight; and liaison with health care agencies.

Our experience as pioneers of occupational AED programs, and our passion for universal public access defibrillation put us in a unique position to offer a high-value program.

1 Somes v. United Airlines, [1995]; and Talit v. Northwest Airlines, [1995]
2 Richard A. Lazar, “Understanding AED Program Legal Issues” [White paper], (2007)
3 British Columbia Good Samaritan Act, chapter172, 1996; Ontario Good Samaritan Act, chapter 2, 2001; Quebec Civil Code, article 1471, 1991; Nova Scotia Volunteer Services Act, chapter 497, section 3, 1989
4 Yukon Territory Emergency Medical Aid Act, chapter 70, 2002; Alberta Emergency Medical Aid Act, chapter E-7, 2000; Northwest Territories Emergency Medical Aid Act, chapter E-4, 1988; Saskatchewan Emergency Medical Aid Act, chapter E-8, 1978

First Aid Training Dangerously Low

A new poll conducted for the Red Cross reveals that Canadians are unprepared to perform first aid in a medical emergency.

First Aid Training

First Aid Training – The Good News

The majority of Canadians feel will recognize the signs of a life-threatening health emergency such as Choking, Heart Attack or Cardiac Emergency, Heat Emergency, Anaphylactic Shock and Concussion.

First Aid Training – The Bad News

While nearly 98 percent of Canadians say knowing how to perform first aid is important, 82 percent did not take a first aid course within the last three years.

First aid training

It is not enough to recognize the signs of a medical emergency; we need to be able to act.

Currently, only a small portion (18 percent) of Canadians have their first aid training certification and many believe they do not possess the skills needed to save lives when an emergency happens.

 “Although 68 percent of Canadians say they can recognize the signs of a life-threatening health emergency, like choking or cardiac arrest, less than half believe they have the skills to provide life-saving basic first aid,” summarizes Don Marentette, national manager of first aid programs with the Canadian Red Cross.

“The Red Cross believes lapsed training and Canadians’ low confidence in their ability to save a life are directly related, and pose a risk in emergencies.”

Nearly 40 percent of Canadians reported they have had to perform first aid in an emergency situation. In 22 percent of these cases, first aid was performed on a family member.

First Aid Training

Even though Canadians are more likely to use first aid skills to save the life of a loved one than anyone else, there is a significant gap between Canadians’ perception of the importance of taking a first aid course, and actually taking one.

For more information, please see the Red Cross Polling Information

With the high likelihood that we will all have to perform CPR on a loved one at some point during our lives, we should all be taking the necessary steps to be prepared.

As a leader in the development of medical education workshops, Iridia is committed to the training of Canadians in CPR and AED use.

If you would like first aid training, please see Iridia’s current offerings:

Course Offerings

Innovate or Die, that’s the Future

At Iridia, values play a role in everything we do. We are constantly evaluating ourselves, our strategy and our goals; all to align with our core company values.

We strive to bring our core values alive and at the forefront of business. We encourage employees to think about what they do in the context of those values. We ask questions, make decisions, and conduct business in a way that reflects those values.

Innovation is one area where we keep our employees on their toes. It also happens to be one of our eight core values.

The number one thing you will ask – “how are you building an innovative environment at Iridia?”

Innovate or Die

Understand that thinking innovatively isn’t exactly a natural “go-to” mindset for most. Rather, we strive to cultivate this philosophy through education and an “all hands on board” approach.

For example, one way we approach this hurdle is by setting aside time for a presentation on a new innovative tool every staff meeting.

In as little as 5 minutes, one of our employees will share a presentation with the entire staff on an app, website etc., which they have found to be innovative. We call this the Innovation Corner.

So far a pretty awesome selection of tools has been brought forward:

  • Wordle – Generates word clouds
  • Prezi – Cloud based presentation software
  • TinyURL – URL shortening service
  • 99designs – Crowdsourcing platform
  • DropBox – Cloud based storage and sharing
  • – Simple screen sharing software
  • Doodle – Online meeting scheduler
  • Elance – Talent sourcing site
  • Clik – Smartphone screen controller
  • Camtasia – Video creation software
  • OneNote – Note taking software
  • Flipboard – A social magazine aggregator
  • Chrome Web Store – App store in your browser

Many of our staff have embraced these tools after watching a short Innovation Corner presentation, but none more so than Prezi.

Innovate or Die

How can we say we are innovative if we are still using dated (*snore) PowerPoint software? …We can’t!

We are doing away with PowerPoint entirely; going forward all our staff will be trained in Prezi. No more boring presentations around this office.

Another one of the ways we have encouraged our staff to think innovation first is through our company tablets.

Our tablets (an iPad and a Kindle) are available to sign-out for employees to enjoy at home or at work. Employees can use these devices to read our through our TED eBook library or our magazine subscriptions to Inc, Harvard Business Review or Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Staff can also use the tablets to assist in their presentations as well. 

We have given our employees the tools they need for innovative thinking, because as the world evolves, so must we. 

“Innovate or die” is the battle cry of modern business, and Iridia is making innovation part of its life blood in order to stay healthy and vibrant in these changing times.

A Look at the New Critical Care Tower at Surrey Memorial Hospital

At Iridia, we are very excited to see all the progress on the $512 million expansion and redevelopment project at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

The Critical Care Tower at Surrey Memorial Hospital

The centerpiece of the expansion is an eight-storey Critical Care Tower, fully equipped with the following:

  • New emergency department (five times larger than the current one)
  • Dedicated neonatal centre (including 48 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) beds)
  • Teaching and research space
  • Rooftop helipad
  • More parking
  • More beds
    • 25 Intensive Care beds
    • 25 beds for seriously ill patients in the High Acuity Unit
    • Two medical floors of 25 beds each
    • An expanded laboratory

Virtual Tour


Renovations to the existing hospital will complement the new tower. They include:

  • Expanding the Family Birthing Unit and increasing number of single-family rooms in it
  • An enlarged and renovated north entrance to the hospital
  • Renovations to the kitchen so that it will have the capacity to handle the demands of the new tower
  • Renovations to provide additional space to Sterile Processing & Supply
  • Renovations to the Linens and Logistics areas to provide better work flow and increased capacity, and
  • Other infrastructure upgrades that will benefit the entire campus

August 2012 Construction Images

With the help of our team at Iridia, the Surrey Memorial Hospital expansion will address capacity and efficiency, well into the future. At Iridia, we engage with this project by providing assistance in the area of clinical and non-clinical physician services.

We are excited to be taking this journey with Fraser Health and look forward to all the benefits the Critical Care Tower will provide once open.

Opening Dates:

Emergency Department: Fall 2013
Rest of Tower: Spring 2014