Letters to the editor

How long are defibrillator pads good for?

Hey-O Nursing Beat Friends!

We had an interesting question arrive in my inbox a few weeks ago that made all of us here at Team TNB pause and ponder the answer. After a lot of “Do you know the answer to this?” and “Honestly, I have no ideas,” I thought it best to address this in our first Questions for the Editor post! 

Michelle D asked: “Do you know how long you should continue to have defibrillator pads that expired in 2014? I had an EMT tell me they were still good.” 

Since it isn’t specified, I will assume that the defibrillator pads in question are attached to an indoor AED unit, like a Zoll, Lifepak, or Philips unit. (I use these three brands as they are the most popular AED units on the market today.) 

Unfortunately, there isn’t an all-encompassing answer to this question. Overall, the shelf life of defibrillator pads depends on the manufacturer and the unit’s model, which can be between two to five years. Zoll brand defibrillator pads usually have a five-year life span, Philips models have a two-year life span from the date of manufacture, and the Lifepak 1000’s adult defibrillator pads have an 18-month to two-year life span. These are just three examples from the many AED units available today. 

Some of you may be wondering why you’d throw out perfectly good pads if they’re past their expiration date but have never been opened. The main reason is that the gel adhesive on the pad may have started to break down, which results in poor adhesion to the patient’s chest during CPR. You will always want to dispose of a defibrillator pad pack once it’s been opened, even if it was unused, as the adhesive gel will start to dry out, thus resulting in poor adhesion to the patient’s chest the next time the pads need to be used. 

Again, shelf lives will vary, given your AED manufacturer and the unit itself so you will always want to refer to the unit’s specific manual that gives you the exact shelf life of the AED unit, defibrillator pads, and the batteries. Routine checks and maintenance on the units will help ensure all equipment is stocked, unexpired, and emergency-ready. 

Thanks for the question! I hope this answer helps!

Do you have a question for the editor? Email us at editor@thenursingbeat.com!
Subscribe to our M-F newsletter
Thank you for subscribing! Welcome to The Nursing Beat!
Please enter your email address