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January 9, 1991

Does Testing Accelerate Defibrillator Failure?

Author Affiliations

University of Washington School of Medicine Seattle

University of Washington School of Medicine Seattle

JAMA. 1991;265(2):214-215. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460020068028

To the Editor.—  I wish to make two points regarding the recent article on defibrillator failures.1First, the Working Group's recommendation for testing defibrillators every shift may actually hasten their failure due to the added wear and tear on capacitors, switches, relay contacts, and other components.2 Another argument advanced for testing seldom-used defibrillators is to help personnel maintain their familiarity with the equipment and its operation. However, defibrillators in busy paramedic services, coronary care units, and cardiac operating rooms undergo frequent "testing" by actual use, and the personnel also have the benefit of frequent practice in maintaining their familiarity with the equipment. Thus, with minimal loss of training value it may be possible to lengthen the mean time to failure of heavily used defibrillators by not testing them so often. The Emergency Care Research Institute has recommended only weekly test discharging at 50 J (to minimize wear and