Getting to the heart of the matter

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Defibrillators work by restoring regular rhythm to erratically beating hearts. Once rare, these machines can now be found in schools, shopping malls and other places where people tend to congregate. Some are wondering if they should be required in nursing homes as well. In Pennsylvania, a retired deputy sheriff recently learned there were no defibrillators in his father-in-law's nursing home. His discovery has morphed in an effort to make the equipment mandatory in eldercare settings. Opponents question their effectiveness and costs. Supporters say defibrillators are needed for a simple reason: They save lives. They add that for any facility with half a heart, this issue should be a no-brainer.