Defibrillator maintenance: what to do to comply
Defibrillator maintenance is a compulsory procedure by law: what does maintenance consist of and when should it be done?
The defibrillator, just like cars, fire extinguishers and boilers, needs regular maintenance in order to function correctly and comply with the law
All defibrillators on the market must in fact undergo the necessary maintenance operations; otherwise, the defibrillator’s warranty could be considered void.
According to many national regulations on the equipping and use of semi-automatic defibrillators, the defibrillator must undergo periodic checks, inspections and maintenance in accordance with the intervals specified in the user manual and in compliance with the regulations in force for electro-medical equipment.
The maintenance of an AED semiautomatic defibrillator (regardless of make and model) can be summarised in 4 steps.
Maintenance: the automatic defibrillator self-test
The defibrillator automatically performs a self-test to check the condition of the device and battery, without any intervention by the user.
The frequency of the self-test, set by the manufacturer, may be daily or weekly.
If the self-test detects the need for user or technician intervention, the defibrillator issues a warning.
Visual inspection of the defibrillator
Regularly and after each use, the defibrillator should be visually inspected for possible mechanical damage.
- check that the Status LED indicates that the defibrillator is switched on and functioning.
- check the outer casing of the device for damage
If damage or malfunctions are observed that could compromise the safety of the patient or user, the device should only be used after maintenance work.
Replacing consumables (battery and electrodes)
The electrodes and battery are the consumable parts of a defibrillator: they therefore have an expiry date and must be replaced periodically.
Defibrillator electrodes are disposable and cannot be reused.
They must therefore be replaced either on expiry or after each use.
Replacement before the expiry date (generally after 2-4 years depending on the brand and model) is necessary because the gel which allows perfect adhesion and electrical conductivity tends to dry out over time and is therefore no longer able to perform its function properly.
The expiry date is indicated on the electrode package, which is only valid if the sealed package is intact.
The defibrillator battery has a fixed lifespan, usually between 2 and 6 years.
However, the battery life is affected by various factors, such as the number of discharges, the frequency of self-tests and the external temperature (optimum temperature between 15 and 25 °C).
The frequency of replacement of consumable parts varies from defibrillator to defibrillator, as does the cost.
Sometimes a low initial investment results in very high consumable costs.
Defibrillator: electrical safety tests performed during maintenance by a technician
The semi-automatic defibrillator is an electro-medical device that transfers an amount of current that passes through the heart muscle and can restore its proper functioning.
The safety assessment of the defibrillator should be carried out by persons experienced in electrical safety, who have had adequate training in the tests to which the defibrillator should be subjected.
All tests performed must also be documented.
Depending on the defibrillator, the mandatory frequency of maintenance by a technician may vary widely: unless indicated in the manual, the interval between tests should be every 2 years.
Optimal conditions for exemption from the three-year safety check-up include:
- Temperature between +15 and 25 °C
- No daily temperature variation above 10 °C
- Protection against direct sunlight
- Humidity of 30-65% (no condensation)
- Protection against dust
- No use in means of transport (e.g. train, car, bus, plane, etc.)
- Not placed on walls with risk of vibration (e.g. next to doors, windows, etc.)