Once the Covid-19 pandemic began, shipping and supply demands quickly became an issue. With many items like cars, cell phones, masks, gloves, ventilators and more being in high demand many medical devices got quickly added to the list. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a shortage of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and their components have been added to the list. The FDA reports that due to increased demand for AEDs across the healthcare system, many manufacturers are experiencing supply shortages or delays in production and delivery. 

What is an AED? 

An Automated External Defibrillator or AED is a portable medical device used to treat sudden cardiac arrest. An AED works by delivering an electrical shock to the heart through adhesive electrode pads placed on the chest, in order to restore a normal heartbeat and prevent further damage from occurring. AEDs can be found in schools, offices, pools,  gyms, grocery stores, and many other public areas. An AED can be operated by trained responders or bystanders in emergency situations, often before paramedics arrive. The device uses voice prompts and visual cues that guide users through each step of defibrillation, making them more user-friendly to the public. An AED is designed for use on adults, children, and infant patients suffering from sudden cardiac arrest or SCA.

FDA Shortage List

Beginning with personal protective equipment (PPE), testing equipment, and ventilators the list of shortage items kept growing and growing during the covid 19 pandemic. In July, the FDA officially announced AEDs both wearable, and non-wearable devices as well as their parts, have been added to the device shortage list. During the covid 19 pandemic, many items became harder to find, and more and more items and devices were added to the list. The shortage of AEDs comes from the uptick in demand for the device as well as discontinued parts and shortages in both components and accessories. This shortage is estimated to last until the end of 2022. Organizations, non-profits, and businesses are urged to regularly check with their suppliers for updates on the availability and estimated delivery times of AED units they have ordered. While businesses and suppliers await shipments refurbished AEDs have been a great option, as well as using existing maintained AEDs. 

Impact of FDA Shortages - Pad Shortage & Battery Shortage in 2022

The shortage of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) has had a significant impact on the ability to respond to cardiac arrest in many communities across the world. AEDs are important medical devices used to help restore normal heart rhythm during cases of sudden cardiac arrest. Without access to an AED, it is difficult for first responders and bystanders to provide life-saving care before emergency personnel arrive. With a shortage of AEDs, some vital issues have arisen. 

  1. Batteries & Electrode Pads - Places and individuals who already own an AED are not able to properly maintain their devices. With a shortage of batteries and electrode pads, AEDs cannot serve their life-saving duty. Even though individuals already had an AED or were able to get one, this parts shortage left many AEDs non-operational, which leaves the public unprepared in the case a sudden cardiac emergency occurs.
  2. New AED -  The Full AED device itself was also in shortage leaving many organizations underprepared for responding to sudden cardiac emergencies. 

This shortage has significant implications for individuals experiencing life-threatening conditions who rely on these devices in emergency situations. 

Why Is There a Shortage of AEDs? 

The shortage of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) is due to a number of factors, including limited production capacity and the cost associated. As demand for AEDs has increased in recent years due to their effectiveness in saving lives during cardiac emergencies, and the increase in demand after the pandemic, manufacturers have been unable to keep up with this growing need. AEDs are made for a large variety of components and missing just one part can impact the function of the device leaving distributors empty-handed. 

The main factor causing a shortage in AEDs is semiconductors. Semiconductors are a key component in manufacturing electronic chips. These chips are used for everything computerized from TVs, cars, cell phones, and patient monitoring devices like AEDs.  Once the shortage of semiconductors began it became hard to make any kind of computerized electronics. Regardless of the importance of medical devices and their life-saving ability, there is no guarantee manufacturers will be able to find vital parts to create medical devices. Overall the medical industry only accounts for 1% of the supply chain of electronic chips, But no single industry of manufacture receives priority levels over incoming chips. This is why many non-profit organizations and health advocates are urging for prioritization of computer chips to be allocated to the medical industry for life-saving devices like AEDs and many other important medical equipment. During these tough shortage times, the lead time for a new AED has been pushed to more than 52 weeks. Without an AED or parts to maintain an existing AED the public becomes more vulnerable to sudden cardiac arrest. 

When Will the AED Shortage End? 

There is no exact date the AED shortage will end. With semiconductors in high demand and many on backorder in a large variety of industries as well as an unpredictable future, there is no single date the issue will be resolved. But many companies have begun to see some components begin to flow in. The incoming semiconductor chip shipments may be slow or uneven for an unknown period of time, but slowly more chips have been arriving. 

AED Availability 

The Covid 19 pandemic caused a shortage of many items including Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). AEDs are portable medical devices used to treat sudden cardiac arrest and can be found in many public places. The shortage of AEDs comes from the increased demand for the device, as well as discontinued parts and shortages in both components and accessories. This AED shortage has no specific end date but is estimated to last until the end of 2022. Organizations and businesses should regularly check with their suppliers for updates on the availability and delivery times of AEDs. 

Check out our website to see which AEDs are in stock today and for updates as new AEDs become available.