Malfunctioning defibrillators

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Heart defibrillators are popping up everywhere — malls, theaters, airports — but new research suggest these devices have some problems. Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH.


HELEN PALMER: Dr William Maisel of Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center studied records from the Food and Drug Administration.

He found the agency issued safety alerts or recalls for 20% of external defibrillators over the past decade. Maisel says heart defibrillators are very complex devices, and recalls don't necessarily mean they're unsafe. But there's no monitoring mechanism to oversee these devices.

WILLIAM MAISEL: We have elevator inspectors and gas station inspectors. I don't think it's too much to ask that these life-saving devices are also checked at least once per year.

Maisel says some 200,000 automatic defibrillators were sold last year. The market's reckoned to be worth about $600 million. In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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