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Servicing your workplace defibrillator could save lives

01/08/2013 00:00:00

Leading medical equipment maintenance provider JPen Medical has warned that there is a one in ten chance that a workplace defibrillator will not work properly - even if it has passed a self-test. Only servicing carried out by a trained professional can ensure that the device will function correctly, if called upon to save a life.

Leading medical equipment maintenance provider JPen Medical has warned that there is a one in ten chance that a workplace defibrillator will not work properly - even if it has passed a self-test. Only servicing carried out by a trained professional can ensure that the device will function correctly, if called upon to save a life.

There are thousands of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in the public arena and an increasing number of workplaces have the device, which can help to restart a heart in cardiac arrest. Most defibrillators will be checked regularly through a self test as part of an organisation’s routine health and safety procedures. However, a study by Jpen Medical has revealed that around one tenth of the devices would fail to deploy the correct electrical charge, at the correct time and in the correct way, if used to treat someone suffering sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Defibrillation needs to be prompt – and the electrical charge precise. According to the British Heart Foundation, with every minute that passes following a cardiac arrest, the chances of survival decrease by 14%. AEDs analyse the heart rhythm, determining whether arrhythmia – an irregular heart beat – has occurred. This process can take up to 20 seconds, the device will then charge and deliver a shock if appropriate.

Peter Averill, general manager of JPen Medical, commented: “The statistics for SCA are sobering, 12 people under the age of 35 die every week due to sudden heart failure in the UK, and a total of around 270,000 people suffer a heart attack in the country each year. About a third of this number die before reaching hospital. On a more positive note, early defibrillation can triple a victim’s chance of survival.”

The standard medical defibrillators found in hospitals, medical centres and in use by paramedics will invariably undergo regular scheduled live testing and maintenance. However, apart from self-testing, there is no guarantee that non-medical AEDs receive such stringent maintenance and live testing.

Yet live testing is inexpensive (less than £50) and can be conducted onsite by qualified engineers to ensure the device discharges a full set of stepped shocks, takes correct patient readings and discharges appropriately. A qualified engineer can also check that the battery holds a sufficient charge to discharge at the right level and that the pads are compliant. The engineer will ensure that battery and pad expiry dates are logged and monitored so that the owner user can be warned about impending replacement dates.

Peter Averill said: “It is great that AEDs are becoming more widely available throughout the UK, but it would be terrible if a unit failed to work when it was needed. The medical profession has been live-testing its defibrillators for years, but it’s not difficult to test non-medical devices in an equally thorough way. Proper testing will give the device owner or operator peace of mind, and could save a life.”

 

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