External Manual Defibrillators: Which Models Are Ready to Meet Your Needs?

November 1, 2009 | Evaluations & Guidance


External manual defibrillators allow operators to assess and monitor a patient’s electrocardiogram (ECG) and, when necessary, treat certain abnormal heart rhythms or deliver a defibrillating shock to the heart. These units are designed for use by personnel trained in advanced life support (ALS). Most models can also be equipped with automated external defibrillator (AED), or advisory, capability, extending the list of users to include personnel trained in basic life support (BLS).

Most of today’s defibrillators meet a high standard of quality, so choosing between them can be difficult. Still, most units have one or more unique features that set them apart.

For example, three of the products we evaluated in this issue can provide real-time feedback on users’ technique during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). We consider this a highly valuable feature and have rated these units Preferred because of it. Studies have shown that the technique of individuals who deliver CPR—even in hospitals—is often not as good as it could be, and therefore could benefit from the extra help. Although there are currently no clinical studies that link improved clinical outcomes to CPR feedback features alone, there are studies showing that their use will improve users’ CPR technique.

Additionally, some units have capabilities that can help address particular problems or meet specific objectives. For example, you might be having issues with your defibrillators being left unplugged and batteries not being charged. Or maybe your organization is taking measures to speed the identification and treatment of patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). For each of these situations, there is a model in this Evaluation that can help meet your needs.

This Evaluation covers nine models from four manufacturers:

Two of the units—the Zoll Medical E Series and R Series—are newly tested for this issue. Our detailed test results for these units can be found in the product profiles. We also retested an updated version of a previously evaluated model, the Philips HeartStart MRx (see New and Noteworthy Features, below, for our assessment of this unit’s new features). Findings for the remaining units, which we tested in previous Evaluations,...

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