An Expert’s Guide to Medical Equipment Maintenance

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When medical equipment breaks down, it’s needs more than a quick fix.

Parts are expensive, and finding technicians can be difficult due to the complex nature of the equipment. 

But medical equipment’s longevity is no different than any other household appliance or vehicle; if you take care of it, it lasts longer. How long medical equipment lasts depends on its maintenance.

Read on to discover an expert’s guide to medical equipment maintenance. 

Medical Equipment Maintenance is Expensive for a Reason 

Medical equipment is highly sophisticated and requires the skill of trained technicians. Because medical equipment maintenance requires specialization, most hospitals, radiologists, and X-ray technicians outsource medical equipment maintenance.

In addition to high-tech maintenance, it’s important to remember that medical equipment has to perform flawlessly because people’s health is at risk.

How do you know the medical cables aren’t faulty and putting people at risk? Because the maintenance company you consult swears by the medical cable manufacturer

Because of the skill required and the stakes at hand, it’s essential to enlist the help of qualified contractors. 

Conducting a Medical Equipment Audit 

Over the years, medical equipment maintenance has gotten even more complicated. Maintenance has gotten more complex due to software integration, increased safety and reliability compliance, and the advanced nature of the equipment. 

Conducting an annual medical equipment audit gives medical professionals the ability to run diagnostics on their equipment, switch outdated equipment with newer models, and stay current on compliance issues. 

In the long run, running medical equipment audits saves practices and companies a lot of money. 

Consider Medical Equipment Maintenance Before Starting Your Practice 

Since medical equipment maintenance can be expensive, any physician needs to understand their overhead maintenance costs. How big is their practice? Does it need three MRI machines, or can one MRI machine serve patient needs? 

Don’t Wait for Machines to Break 

In the past twenty-five years, the medical community has switched from a fix-it-when-it’s broken mentality to performing calculated, proactive maintenance schedules. These maintenance management programs are known as medical equipment management programs (MEMPs). 

Newer programs incorporate more data to ensure cost reduction and increase equipment reliability. Some data category examples include labeling equipment maintenance as “corrective,” “preventative,” or, “condition analysis.” 

Cataloging maintenance procedures help to keep an organized record of repairs. This organized record ensures the maintenance program stays current and on-time. 

Keep an Inventory

Using accurate data and organizing medical equipment for maintenance depends mostly on a thorough inventory. If you don’t know what you have, how can you expect to take care of what you have? 

Frequently cataloging all of the facility’s biomedical equipment creates a structured inventory that’s easy to track. After establishing the inventory, schedule the medical maintenance for each item before the year’s end. 

An accurate inventory catalogs which equipment needs outsourced attention, which machines use IT assistance, and which tools are at the highest risk. 

Equipment Performance Information

The inventory must represent the status of the equipment. Include how the equipment’s usage rate, especially whether or not some equipment is not in use. 

There should also be cleaning procedures for each piece of equipment that document its external status and structural integrity.

All clinical users should understand the equipment’s primary use so they can adequately evaluate the equipment. Moreover, clinicians should be able to spot potential maintenance issues before they occur. 

Equipment Maintenance Categories

There are four central maintenance categories all MEMPs should have. The first category is an equipment replacement category—the equipment replacement category records the antiquated equipment that needs an update. 

New data comes to light, and medical equipment advances quickly. It’s important to have state-of-the-art technology in the clinic. 

The second category all MEMps should have is an outsourcing equipment category. The outsourcing category records and consolidates the equipment that needs outsourced equipment maintenance. The reason to group these pieces of equipment is so you can perform all the necessary maintenance at once. 

The third essential category for a MEMP is the informatics category. Informatics is primarily for smaller clinics that use hybrid biomedical equipment/information technologies. 

Increased interoperability within the medical field requires more maintenance of information systems. As patients’ information is put at a higher risk, clinics need to install preventative measures in their practice.

Keeping informatics systems up to date and secure is the most effective way to secure client information. 

Frequency is the fourth Key category for a MEMP.  Frequency in a MEMP is the clinic’s number of diagnostic reports and how often a clinic runs those diagnostic reports.  

User Errors 

Locating user errors is an additional component of MEMP. Facilities should run reports on user errors to identify equipment and department trends. If the facility notices an unusual amount of user errors for a particular piece of equipment, they should report it. 

There are there main reasons for repeat user errors in manufacturers and models: device design, user characteristics, or ambient environment. 

The device design refers to how the manufacturer made the equipment. If there are no apparent flaws in the equipment after it’s reported, it’s categorized as a user characteristics flaw.

Is the staff trained to operate the equipment? Was the team working overtime and carrying a heavy workload? Is a different staff member using the equipment than usual? These questions are all solid investigative methods into the nature of why a user error occurs. 

Often, the environment a piece of equipment operates in can cause an error. Ambient environment errors occur even when trained clinicians work the equipment. 

Benefits of a Medical Equipment Maintenance Program 

Performing diagnostics and maintenance on medical equipment is a must for any clinic that wants to save money and protect themselves from harmful lawsuits. By increasing the performance of the clinic’s equipment, you protect yourself from labor expenses and potential legal action. 

Keeping an inventory and generating reports from a medical equipment database tells you what pieces of equipment need servicing and equally important, when they need servicing. Since most equipment maintenance is outsourced, it’s essential to have a maintenance schedule. 

Medical Equipment Maintenance Keeps Clinics Safe and Cost-Effective

Because of the benefits medical equipment maintenance provides to clinics and physicians, it’s an integral part of any medical practice. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll get by until something breaks. 

Equipment breaks at the most inopportune times, and when it does, you’ll wish you were more proactive. 

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