Life-saving inspections on Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are a life saving tool for medical emergencies involving sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) during a heart attack. When the heart stops beating, defibrillation within 1-3 minutes can shock it into restarting and improve the likelihood of survival by over 75% when combined with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).[1]

According to a 2012 study, about 1 in 4 AED failures are caused by battery or power issues; and, based on feedback from our colleagues and customers at Tap Report, we’ve found that about 1 in 3 inspectors forget to check the expiry dates of their AED electrode pads and battery.[2][3]

With this in mind, it’s critical that AEDs are inspected regularly and their parts are replaced as required. Here are a few of our guidelines for AED inspections:

  • Pay close attention to the status indicator on the front or top of the unit. The status shown is indicative of the last self-test on the AED’s internal circuitry, which should have been done within the month. If the electrode pads and battery have not yet expired and are in working order, it should read “Ready” or “OK”. If attention or service is required, this should be reflected by an alert on the display such as a flashing red icon.[2]

    • Shelf life for batteries ranges from 3-5 years, as indicated by the “use by”, “install by” or manufacturing date on the battery, so in practice, they should last 2-4 years after installation (*Note: shelf life is reduced in extreme temperatures).[2]

    • AED electrode pads must be replaced before the gel and adhesive dry out. The sealed package for the AED pads is designed to protect them until use, but only up to the “use by” date for their 2-3 years of shelf life, or a couple years after installation.[2]

  • Though manufacturers often recommend a monthly schedule for inspecting AEDs, our recommendation is for weekly checks to ensure functionality in the event of an emergency, especially in high-traffic locations such as concourse areas.[2]

  • Regularly check and keep track of equipment recalls and service bulletins from the manufacturer, even for something as simple as a software update.[2]

  • Ensure AEDs are readily and easily accessible to trained staff, but protected from vandalism and damage. A location such as a front desk is ideal in this regard.

  • Most laws for AED use provide immunity from liability only if an employer complies with each item from a list of rules within a legal statute. The requirements in this list may vary between jurisdictions, but there is usually a provision for proper maintenance.[4]

    • “Your organization can be sued if your AED is not regularly inspected and maintained and it leads to a bad outcome for an SCA victim,” according to Richard Lazar, founder and president of Readiness Systems, LLC and an expert in AED program operations and risk management. “Maintenance issues are identifiable and can be pointed to as a direct cause of any delays or failures to defibrillate.”[2]

    • In one case involving an Amazon Fulfillment Centre in Joliet, IL, a $50,000 lawsuit was filed by the widow of a 57-year-old maintenance technician after all AED boxes within a warehouse site were found to be empty at the time her husband went into sudden cardiac arrest.[5]

Tap Report has a number of benefits when it comes to AED maintenance and inspections, including:

  • Digitized inspections to eliminate the need for log books or other paperwork that may reduce efficiency when inspecting AEDs

  • Notification of near-due inspection/maintenance to ensure that inspections are not missed

  • Automatic notification of deficiencies such as replacement of pads, battery, etc. 

  • Easily accessible inspection record of the date and time of each inspection, the results of the inspection, and a record of any maintenance that took place (i.e. battery/electrode replacement, software updates, etc.)

  • Storing and keeping track of expiration dates for batteries, pads, gloves, protective masks and other items included in each AED box

  • Storing information and instructions specific to each AED, particularly if the manufacturer, battery and other components vary between AEDs within your property

To learn more about how Tap Report can digitize your AED inspections and ensure that inspections on these life-saving tools are not missed, please contact us at

See also: Life Safety Equipment and Location Inspections, Emergency Power Systems, Carbon Monoxide Detectors 101




  3. DeLuca LA Jr, Simpson A, Beskind D, Grall K, Stoneking L, Stolz U, Spaite DW, Panchal AR, Denninghoff KR. Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Feb;59(2):103-11. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2011.07.022.