Reasons for AED Failures

There is no disputing the fact that the presence of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) during instances of sudden cardiac arrest can be the difference between life and death.

These convenient, portable medical devices designed to administer vital electrical shocks to the hearts of those experiencing a disruption or cessation of normal heartbeats can be a key element of survival when time truly is of the essence.

When kept in public places where instantaneous commencement of treatment is critical to a victim’s chances, AEDs offer a lifeline to those whose situations would otherwise likely prove fatal. However, it must be noted that while these tools are often thought to work near-miracles, they are not immune to a number of specific vulnerabilities.

When defibrillators of this type fail to perform as intended, it is necessary to explore the many possible reasons for AED failures and determine whether negligence may be to blame for any death which may result. A heart attack in public places lawyer can provide guidance for this investigation.

FDA Statistics on AED Failures

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, between 2005-2012, the US Food and Drug Administration had received roughly 45,000 “adverse event” reports related to AED failures and malfunctions.

While only a portion of those reports pertained to the types of devices commonly found in public spaces, these statistics underscore the importance of maintenance, inspection and quality control with regard to defibrillators. Also of concern is the fact that manufacturers of AEDs initiated or were subjected to no less than 80 recalls during that same time period.

Everyone should be encouraged by the fact that the volume of AEDs sold in the country has grown rapidly in recent years, and well over 2.5 million are currently on-site in all sorts of venues. Legislative initiatives on the federal, state and local levels in many parts of the country have expanded the number and types of public venues required to keep AEDs on site.

Of course, the fact remains that the efficacy of AEDs depends largely on their maintenance and continued functionality in addition to the proper training of those likely to use them on individuals in crisis.

AED Maintenance Requirements

In terms of assessing the most prevalent reasons for AED failures, it pays to examine the distinct maintenance and repair requirements of these devices. Considering the extremely time-sensitive nature of AED use and the fact that minutes and even seconds can be determinative of a victim’s chances of living or dying, proper maintenance of these tools is crucial.

Industry experts have conducted comprehensive reviews of AED failure data, finding that issues with the devices’ cables, pads and batteries were responsible for almost 50 percent of the failures, as reported by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. Failure to keep AEDs sufficiently charged or powered by batteries prior to the emergence of a trauma situation caused 45 percent of all device problems connected to fatalities.

Frighteningly, device design and manufacturing defects have contributed to far too many malfunctions, including those resulting in death. Software issues, faulty components and poorly written user guides can all substantially reduce the power of these devices to save lives. When any of these defects or malfunctions occur and contribute to an injury or death, it is prudent to consult a heart attack in public places lawyer who can properly assess the situation.

Importance of Increased Awareness Regarding AED Use and Availability

No matter how helpful a medical device such as an AED can be in saving lives, their value is necessarily diminished if potential responders are unaware of their presence at the site of an emergency. It is unfortunately common for the very existence of an AED at a given location to be something long forgotten, causing repair and maintenance tasks to go undone until it is too late.

To mitigate the risk such circumstances can pose, advocates recommend expansion of awareness campaigns regarding the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest, increased funding for the development of emergency response plans in a wide range of public places and greater availability of training and educational programs for those who may be called upon to operate AEDs.

By addressing the most common reasons for AED failures in a head-on manner, it is hoped that the life-saving attributes of these tools can be maximized and fatalities reduced.

Help for Those Harmed by AED Failures

A failure of an AED to work properly, whether due to manufacturer negligence, improper maintenance by a legally responsible party or insufficient training of likely responders can yield devastating consequences for entire families.

If your loved one suffered a fatal cardiac arrest which may have been preventable through proper use of a functioning AED, a heart attack in public places attorney with our firm is prepared to help assess your legal options.