If your heart suddenly stops pumping effectively, chances are good that an AED, or automated external defibrillator, could save your life. These paddles are part of that device which sends electrical shocks through the chest that can make the heart beat normally again.
Today, AEDs are not just used in emergency rooms, they're in public buildings for anyone to use. That's why some are concerned about what sounds like a high recall rate among AEDs. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has reviewed all the incidents involved in those recalls. And they have determined that out of more than 775 thousand AEDs in circulation, there were 370 fatal malfunctions.
But here's the bottom line. "The number of malfunctions pales in comparison to the number of lives that have been saved by these important devices over the past decade, people who purchase a device should return the card that comes with the device so that they can register their name and address with the manufacturer, so they can be directly contacted if their device has a problem," said Dr. William Maisel, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Dr. Maisel stresses that not all recalled devices are actually defective, and the high number of recalls is likely a "better safe than sorry" approach.