For the majority of us who work in hospitals as biomedical equipment technicians or clinical engineers, the servicing of medical equipment is second nature. I assume most of us are also curious about the service and support of medical devices at hospitals other than our own. We probably all look at inspection stickers when we visit hospitals that are not serviced by our departments. My wife still gets frustrated when I check inspection stickers at “rival” hospitals.
I also wonder about the medical equipment that is outside of hospitals. Who is servicing that equipment? Several recent events made me question who oversees these devices, specifically automated external defibrillators or AEDs. Several years ago, we had a major hospital donor contact us about the AEDs that he kept in his houses and yachts around the world. Apparently, he was visited by a local fire department inspector who found his AEDs to have expired batteries and pacing pads. He was eventually sent to me, and we discussed the service of these devices. I provided him with operator manuals, sources to purchases batteries and pads online, and recommendations on how to routinely inspect the AEDs.
Not long after that event, I was at my local car dealership and I asked the service manager if I could look at the AEDs mounted proudly on the wall. Sure enough, the batteries and pacing pads had all expired. The AEDs would not have worked if they were needed. I gave the dealership the same recommendations I had given to our donor. I also visited the chief of the fire department in that city to see if he had any recommendations. He said he would send a message to a forum of fire chiefs to see if they could include AEDs in their routine inspections of businesses.
Soon after that, I visited a local high school to discuss training in the field of biomedical engineering. I again asked to view the AEDs, and I found they were also expired. Surely I thought, this is not an isolated event. I immediately contacted my fire chief to see what was being done in my home town. He assured me that all city-owned AEDs and defibrillators are contracted to the OEM for routine inspection. I asked him what about those not owned by the city? He did not have an answer.
My plea to the AAMI community is to get involved and ask questions of any business that owns an AED to make sure it is being properly maintained. I mentioned this concern to a local salesman of a major bed manufacturer. He said that he was a member of his city’s parks and recreation board and would bring this up.
CPR and AED Awareness Week is coming in June. Now is a perfect time to make sure everyone is aware of the importance of not only having an AED accessible, but making sure the device will properly work if needed.
David Braeutigam, MBA, CHTM, CBET, is system director of healthcare technology management at Baylor Scott & White Health based in Dallas, TX.