Should I buy a Used or Refurbished AED?

Explaining the difference between new and used AEDs.

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Cost can be a major factor in the purchase of an AED, and a pre-owned or refurbished AED may seem like a smart, cost-effective alternative to buying new. There may be situations where a pre-owned or refurbished unit is a good solution, but in this article, we’ll outline some of the reasons why a refurbished or pre-owned unit might not be the best choice.

Pre-Market Approval (PMA)

AEDs sold in the United States are medical devices that are regulated by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration). The FDA requires all AED manufacturers to receive Pre-Market Approval (PMA) to market and sell AEDs. Some older-model discontinued AEDs are still in use and operating properly, but they weren’t part of the PMA process and therefore cannot be resold. Some of these include:

  • Philips HeartStart Forerunner AED
  • Philips HeartStart FR2 AED
  • Physio-Control/Medtronic LIFEPAK 500 AED
  • HeartSine samaritan AED
  • HeartSine samaritan PAD 300
  • Welch Allyn AED 10
  • Welch Allyn AED 20

These AEDs might be in fine operating condition, so if you have one, there’s not necessarily any need to immediately discard it. They can’t be resold as refurbished or pre-owned, though. If you do decide to purchase a used AED, be careful it is not one of the models that has not received pre-market approval from the FDA.

Electrode pads and batteries for some of these AEDs may still be available, but most accessories will be discontinued in the near future. Once replacement accessories are no longer available for the device, it becomes obsolete when its accessories reach their expiration date. Also, any AED electrode pads and batteries (including aftermarket parts) that haven’t gone through PMA will not be available after the five-year grace period that ends in early 2020.

PMA Takeaway: Consider how long you’d like your AED purchase to last. If the manufacturer discontinues replacement parts tomorrow, would you be satisfied with your AED only being usable for another 18 to 24 months? You may save more money long-term by buying a new AED that will have replacement parts available for much longer than an older model.

Manufacturer Warranty

If you’re looking at a used or refurbished AED, be sure to check on manufacturer warranty coverage. When purchased, an AED has a specific number of years during which it’s covered by the manufacturer warranty. With some manufacturers, the warranty is not transferable, and will only cover the original purchaser. Typical warranty coverage ranges from five to eight years. The warranty coverage is important for a few reasons:

Service: If service is required, the warranty won’t cover it. Like anything else you’d buy that doesn’t have a warranty, you would be responsible for covering the cost of repairs.  

Liability: You may be exposed to unwanted liability if the AED should malfunction and is outside of warranty coverage. Some manufacturers only provide indemnification for AEDs for the length of the warranty period or for the duration of support.

Some distributors will offer a limited warranty on used or refurbished AEDs. Read the warranty carefully and do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask about the condition of the AED you will be buying and request details on the testing these distributors put their used units through prior to reselling. Always purchase from a reputable distributor you can trust. Keep in mind that going with the least-expensive option may not ultimately be the most budget-friendly or safe choice when it comes to a pre-owned AED.  

Manufacturer Warranty Takeaway: Investigate whether the AED is under warranty, has a limited warranty and has been thoroughly tested. Consider possible liability consequences if you’re looking at a unit that’s out of warranty.

Replacement Accessories and Supplies

Some manufacturers of older AED models no longer produce the electrode pads or batteries for these units. However, you may be able to find accessories for an older AED online from aftermarket companies. Be advised when using these non-OEM accessories, there is always the risk of failure during a rescue due to incompatibility.

AEDs are rigorously tested before being put on the market, but manufacturers don’t test their AEDs with third-party electrode pads or batteries. Because of this, it’s not possible to verify that the device will work properly without OEM parts. Third-party supplies also aren’t necessarily subjected to the same FDA regulation as OEM parts. Most manufacturers will void an existing AED warranty or indemnity coverage if it is discovered you are using third-party supplies. Also, any aftermarket electrode pads and batteries which haven’t gone through PMA will not be available after the five-year grace period which ends in early 2020.

Replacement Supplies Takeaway: It’s possible the AED with third-party electrode pads or batteries might not work in a rescue situation. Using non-OEM parts may void the warranty of your AED, and may leave you open to liability issues. Manufacturers deliberately discourage using third-party parts.

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