Owing to the role played by medical devices in the provision of healthcare services, it is critical that appropriate guidelines and regulations are adhered to (Kramer, Xu and Kesselheim 2012). It is for this reason that biomedical engineering steps in to fill embark on the key aspects of medical devices that involve initial designing, system analysis and practical application to ensure quality and efficient products. Among the medical devices are defibrillators, which play a crucial role in the relieving heart attacks in areas away from medical facilities. This paper seeks to highlight defibrillators as a medical device while focussing on their history, scope of application and safety aspects of the device with regard to human factors engineering. Fibrillation is characterised by accelerated and irregular contraction of heart muscle fibres, which is attributed to a deranged electrical activity of the heart.
Fibrillation can either be of atrial or ventricular nature, both of which are of great concern with regard to cardiac arrest. However, ventricular fibrillation is the most common cause of heart attacks that are normally fatal should efforts to reverse the unsynchronised contractions fails (Khandpur 2003).
The process of reversing fibrillation is described by defibrillation, which is the process of delivering electric shock to the heart to halt the uncoordinated electrical activity, restoring a normal and organised heart rhythm (Street 2012). In order to achieve this, a medical device, the defibrillator, is employed to deliver a preconfigured electric shock to the victim. A defibrillator is a device that is designed to deliver a joust of electric current to the heart in order to relieve the effects of cardiac arrest, allowing the heart to resume normal heart rhythms.
Defibrillators range from portable devices to implants, all with a rich history owing to the present technological advances. The common versions of defibrillators include automated external defibrillators (AED) and implanted Cardioverter defibrillators (ICD), which form the focus of this paper. AEDs are portable devices, equipped with a computer system that evaluates the condition of the patient and advices on defibrillation if need be. In addition, the device is fitted with a charged battery that is the source of energy during defibrillation. Other fittings include electrodes, paddles, and display screen among others.
ICDs are miniaturised defibrillators that double as pacemakers and can be implanted in a patient to deliver electric shock to a patient when abnormal rhythms are detected (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute 2011).
Reference, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.