Hazard
report

Problem
statement

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Based on a study that was published by the Annals of emergency
medicine, about 25% of more than 1000 deaths due to Automated External
Defibrillators (AED) failures, were battery failures 1. Batteries as stated
as in the Description of the device report are one of the essential parts of an
AED.

Discussion
related to the problem

AED battery failures are highly suspected to be under
reported. In many of the AEDs in public spaces, the battery life is between 2
to 5 years. There were instances where during an exchange of the batteries, the
new battery was never put in the AED thus the AED did not turn on and resulted in
a death that was likely avoidable 2. Most people are not very familiar and
unable to recognise a defected medical equipment. This should not be the case especially
for devices that handle with high voltage and is critical in the event o
emergencies.

Possible
solution and recommendations

The simplest form of a solution is the consistent and
thorough check on the medical equipment. Inspections should not only include the
batteries, but also the accessories such as the electrodes and the other
components. The replaceable accessory should be exchanged on a higher
frequency. For example, the electrodes have a shelf life of 2 years, the in-charge
of managing the AEDs shouldn’t wait for exactly 2 years to replace the
electrodes.

The AED programs should be treated seriously and have on
the spot exchange. This could potentially prevent more of such cases as
mentioned where the device is not loaded with batteries. This brings about a recommendation
of standardizing either the AEDs itself or at the very least, the batteries.

AED manufacturers should also have a battery level indicator
or warning when batteries are depleted or to the point that the device could
malfunction.

Although these measures don’t guarantee 100% battery
related failures in the AED, it should be taken into consideration and potentially
lower the rate of such incidents.