Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Pacemaker battery scandal

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 04 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i228

Rapid Response:

Re: Pacemaker battery scandal

John Dean and Neil Sulke are to be congratulated on their editorial highlighting the relevant issue of battery life in patients with implanted devices. Although the issue is relevant to all patients, the issue is particularly acute for patients with defibrillators and cardiac resychronisation therapy devices where some devices deplete after a few years.

There is no doubt that smart programming, delaying device change, and reassessing patients for device therapy is important, and not done as rigorously as it should be. It is perhaps time to develop guidelines. There is no doubt that there are vested interests which are protected by shorter acting devices.

The variability in battery life between manufacturers is now well recognised after a series of articles, many cited in the text of the editorial. The differences are there to see in the manufacturers product performance reports, but the dense nature of the texts means that most cardiologists do not view them.

It is time the NHS procurement system moved to assessing the cost of the device per year, rather than looking at the up-front costs of the device, which currently seems to be the most pressing concern of accountants. It is time that patients were truly informed about the differences between devices; I agree with Dean and Sulke that many would opt for a device with a longer battery life to avoid surgery and its inherent discomfort and potential for complications.

Competing interests: I have received educational support / lecture fees / advisory board fees from Medtronic, Boston, St Jude, Biotronik and Sorin (Now LivaNova).

06 February 2016
Mark J Dayer
Consultant Cardiologist
Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust
Musgrove Park