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Understanding Lithium Batteries and Defibrillator Safety

    Lithium Batteries & AEDs
    In recent years, lithium batteries have become an integral part of our daily lives, powering everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. However, as the use of lithium batteries increases, questions arise about their safety in various situations, especially in emergencies such as cardiac events where defibrillators may be needed. In this blog, we will delve into the world of lithium batteries, exploring their characteristics and addressing the crucial question: Can you safely use a defibrillator on someone who has a lithium battery on their person?


    Understanding lithium batteries

    Lithium batteries have gained popularity due to their high energy density, lightweight design, and ability to provide a reliable power source. These batteries are commonly found in medical devices, such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), as well as in everyday gadgets such as laptops and cameras.

    While they offer many advantages, they also come with certain safety considerations. One of the primary concerns is the potential for thermal runaway, a phenomenon that can occur if the battery is damaged or experiences a short circuit. Thermal runaway can lead to overheating, fires, or even explosions. To mitigate these risks, lithium batteries often incorporate safety features like thermal protection circuits and flame-retardant materials.


    Defibrillators and lithium batteries

    When it comes to using a defibrillator on someone with a lithium battery on their person, several factors need to be considered. Modern automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and manual defibrillators typically do not pose a significant risk when used on individuals with implanted medical devices containing lithium batteries.

    Most medical devices with lithium batteries are designed to be safe during external defibrillation. Manufacturers take precautions to shield the batteries from the electric shock delivered by the defibrillator. Additionally, the metallic casings of many medical implants help protect the batteries from the external electrical energy used in defibrillation.

    However, it is crucial to note that specific guidelines and precautions may vary based on the type and model of the medical device and the defibrillator being used. Healthcare professionals and emergency responders should always be aware of the individual’s medical history, including the presence of any implanted devices, and follow established protocols.


    The conclusion

    Lithium batteries have revolutionised the way we power electronic devices, providing efficiency and reliability. While safety concerns exist, especially in cases of thermal runaway, modern medical implants with lithium batteries are generally designed to withstand external defibrillation.

    If someone with a lithium battery-containing medical device requires defibrillation, emergency responders and healthcare professionals should follow established protocols and guidelines to ensure the safety of the individual. It is essential to stay informed about advancements in both lithium battery technology and medical device design to provide the best care in emergencies. Always consult with medical professionals and device manufacturers for the most accurate and up-to-date information on safety protocols.

    However, if the lithium batteries are contained in a non-medical device on the person, these should be removed to a safe distance away from the person whilst the defibrillator is being used. Items such as mobile phones, radios, key fobs, etc should be taken off the person before defibrillating the person for their own and your safety.



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