Hundreds of defibrillators in urgent need of update, agency warns

Cardiac episode sufferers’ lives at risk in Ireland if defibrillator devices not checked

Almost 600 defibrillators across the State "require urgent safety updates" to ensure they work in emergency situations, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has said. It also advised that organisations or individuals in possession of a defibrillator check the status of their device.

Defibrillators are portable devices used to deliver a dose of electric current to the heart of people who are experiencing cardiac episodes.

There has in recent years been a significant increase in the number of defribillators in Ireland. Sporting venues, schools, hotels, restaurants, businesses and shopping centres now have such devices on their premises.

The HPRA said five models used in the State required corrective action. These were the Lifepak 1000; the Life-Point device made by Metsis Medikal Teknik Sistemler Elektronik Otomoti; the Samaritan PAD 500P; the Samaritan PAD 300; and the Zoll AED Plus.


It said the affected devices “may require a software upgrade or the replacement of a component part” and without the necessary attention the 583 such cardiac devices may not work as intended in an emergency situation.

Contacting manufacturers

However, the HPRA noted that the number of devices in need of updates had fallen by 22 per cent when compared to the same period last year.

Anne Tobin, medical devices vigilance manager at the HPRA, said people in possession of a device in need of an upgrade should contact the manufacturer and get the issues addressed as soon as possible.

She said doing so could be “the difference between life and death for whomever next requires treatment with the automated external defibrillator”.

The HPRA, which is responsible for regulating medicines, medical devices and health products, said that it was also important to store and maintain defibrillators as instructed by the manufacturer.

It said the devices can be affected by dropping temperatures which made it “particularly important this time of year to ensure devices are stored appropriately”. Some 70 per cent of cardiac arrests occur outside a healthcare environment where correct operation of a defibrillator can be life-saving, it said.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times