Asked & Answered: Automated External Defibrillators

April 1, 2020

Categories: AAMI News, HTM Professionals

This regular feature showcases questions and answers from professionals participating in AAMI’s online discussion groups, collectively known as AAMI Connect. AAMI does not endorse specific practices or advice. Participants in these forums are sharing their own experiences and insights.

Q Are monthly checks required for automated external defibrillators(AEDs)? Some healthcare technology professionals think a monthly check is unnecessary because many AEDs complete a daily self-test and are typically serviced annually by technicians.

A I do not think a monthly check is necessary if someone is monitoring the results of the daily self-tests. However, if the AED manufacturer recommends a monthly test, you must do it—at least until you can gather enough data for an alternative equipment maintenance (AEM) plan that shows you can skip monthly testing.

—Ana Arreygue, a student at the University of Connecticut School of Engineering in Storrs, CT

A Since the department does daily checks on the AEDs, the monthly checks by biomedical engineering technicians are not necessary. Most AED manufacturers recommend annual preventive maintenance, but you can deviate that schedule according to your AEM plan, if you have one. At my facility, we perform AED maintenance every six months and do not complete monthly checks.

—Robinson Figuereo, clinical engineering supervisor at Berkshire Health Systems in Pittsfield, MA

A My response assumes your clinical engineering department is using the Zoll AED Plus. The current operator’s guide and administrator’s guide do not indicate monthly checks. Instead, the guides say AED inspections should be performed frequently, as necessary. While not required by the original equipment manufacturer, it is always best practice for the user to perform regular checks on devices to ensure that they are safe to use. You should set up a maintenance interval that works best in your clinical setting based on AED use and patient volume. I suggest a monthly AED check by clinical staff to ensure the device is working and that batteries and other device supplies, like pads and electrode cables, are functioning properly and have not expired.

—James Myers, director of service at GE Healthcare–Lone Star Area in Austin, TX

A I agree. Life-saving equipment like AEDs should be checked monthly. Self diagnostics are fine as a backup to monthly checks, but I put my trust in a biomedical equipment technician’s (BMET’s) trained eye. They are essential in assuring the safety and performance of medical equipment.

—Alex Robinson is a biomedical engineering consultant in Yonkers, NY

A AEDs should be checked regularly, but not by BMETs. This is not the best use of their time. Nursing staff or unit managers should be responsible for testing AEDs.

—Nader Hammoud, biomedical engineering manager for John Muir Health System in Walnut Creek, CA

A The previous answer begs the question “What are BMETs for?” AEDs are not the only equipment with built-in self tests. Are we to relinquish responsibility for all equipment for which the manufacturers claim self-tests are enough to assure safety and efficacy? The job of manufacturers is to produce new instruments that improve patient outcomes. The job of in-hospital health technology professionals is to assure that equipment works when needed and is safe. The job of nurses and clinicians is to provide care and treatment for patients. The system accomplishes its goals best when everyone performs their duties as a community of professionals, each focused on their own areas of expertise.

—Alex Robinson

Do you have a question? Get answers from your peers on AAMIConnect,