Over 900 defibrillators may not work in emergency

Health agency says devices across Ireland need urgent updates to function properly

Some 940 defibrillators need to be updated, the health products regulator has warned. Photograph: Thinkstock

Some 940 defibrillators need to be updated, the health products regulator has warned. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

More than 900 defibrillators owned by sports venues, hotels and other businesses urgently need to be updated to ensure that they will work properly in the event of an emergency, according to a health agency.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) urged all organisations with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to check that the recommended safety and maintenance updates on their device have been undertaken.

It said it had identified 940 defibrillators in Ireland where a corrective action, such as a software update, remained outstanding.

Updates to five particular models are needed immediately to ensure that the devices will work in a life-saving situation, the agency said.

It said that weather temperatures also affect the performance of defibrillators and they should be stored correctly and checked regularly during the winter months.

The agency said there had been a “significant increase” in the number of AEDs in Ireland and they were now used in restaurants, shopping centres, schools, hotels and businesses, as well as in sporting venues.

There are up to 5,000 sudden cardiac deaths in Ireland each year and more than 70 per cent of all cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital environment.

Field safety notices

Anne Tobin, medical devices vigilance manager with the HPRA, said there were many reasons why an AED may not work, including the device requiring an upgrade.

These reasons are highlighted by the manufacturer and the agency in so-called “field safety notices” (FSAs).

Other issues that affect the performance of the devices include the use of expired batteries or devices not being stored and maintained correctly.

“It is estimated that there are some 10,000 AEDs in Ireland. We know that almost 950 of these have the potential to not work effectively in an emergency because a corrective action as deemed necessary by the manufacturer has not been completed,” Ms Tobin said.

“We know that the manufacturers concerned have attempted to contact the owners directly, with some also using national advertising to highlight the importance of carrying out the required upgrade or battery check.

“We are urgently calling on defibrillator device owners to now check if they have an affected AED and where necessary to contact the manufacturer or supplier immediately to ensure the correction required for their defibrillator is carried out without further delay.”

The 940 devices which need action are: Lifepak CR Plus (manufactured by Physio Control Inc); Lifepak 1000 (Physio Control Inc); AED Plus/Zoll; Samaritan PAD 300/300P (HeartSine) and Samaritan 500P (HeartSine).

Further information is available at hpra.ie