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Reduce Liability: Device Management Programs Reduce Risk, and Saves Lives & Money

“Equipment saves lives; it’s a simple fact.” Emergency Service Organizations (ESO’s) saving lives depends on peak performance from your life saving equipment. No matter how well you are trained, if your equipment is not primed for performance, you may lose lives, business and revenue; not to mention your reputation.

Picture this… your distressed patient is intubated, but the end-tidal CO2 monitor revealed only a row of question marks. Now what? Pull the tube? Reposition it? Make the wrong decision and your patient may pay the price…and so may you. Face it, in the field, critical decisions are made in seconds with the assistance of diagnostic equipment; equipment you have to trust; if it fails, you face incident reports, liability issues, and patient care delays.

Technology is a major factor in the success of an ESO. “It is important to understand the necessity of utilizing programs that keep medical equipment in top operating conditions at all times”. Most ESO’s are unaware of how insidious technology has become. Even fundamental functions like temperature and blood pressure are now automated; if that technology fails, you cannot provide care.

A high percentage of patient incidents related to medical devices occur because of improper equipment inspection and maintenance procedures. “The primary lesson I learned from years of servicing, interviewing and supporting the emergency services market is that ESO’s need to institute more inclusive device management programs, rather than those currently in the marketplace,” says Harmon.

A comprehensive inspection and preventative maintenance (IPM) service that helps ESO’s reduce downtime, minimize patient incidents and contain liability is a must have. Harmon recommends IPM programs that contain four key elements: Device management programs designed exclusively for ESO’s; knowledgeable technical and clinical service representation; detailed record keeping and documentation; and a continual improving service model and feedback process.
It is critical to design an equipment management program around the industry in which the devices are being utilized. Most equipment service providers programs are based on hospital service models, and they are not designed to evaluate vibrational and environmental effects on equipment. Cardiotronix focuses exclusively on the EMS market and uses predictive maintenance techniques to analyze critical connection points and determine likelihood of failures.

A technical and clinical approach to equipment management is necessary because of the complexity of today’s diagnostic equipment. This approach provides more comprehensive solutions that ensure equipment reliability, patient safety, and reduces the risk of liability problems for ESO’s. Too often, the equipment service provider’s field technician simply doesn’t speak the same language as the care providers using the equipment. “Clinical problems are often masked as technical complaints”, Harmon states. “It is key for the equipment service provider to understand the initial service complaint and develop comprehensive solutions that include both the technical and clinical aspect.” Otherwise, says Harmon, “the problem can continue to occur and lead to care provider frustration, patient care delays, and lost revenues”.

A detailed service history is important not only for the administrative and accreditation requirements, but also for tracking device and clinical use issues. “I have reviewed countless service history reports for customers that are inconclusive as to what the initial problem was with the device”, states Harmon, “often times this leads to incomplete service solutions and leaves out critical information necessary for the equipment service providers to track repetitive repairs and issues”.

As the industry changes, it requires equipment service providers to actively update protocols and introduce new innovations. Frequent review of policies, processes and contracts are an essential aspect of a successful, long term service relationship. “Your equipment is the lifeline to the people you serve. Harmon concludes. “You can reduce claims, minimize your liability and maximize your revenues with a comprehensive Inspection and Preventative Maintenance (IPM) program”.

In summary, having a comprehensive device management system in place ensures that your medical device is in peak operating condition when an emergency call comes in. Understanding the unique challenges the emergency care market presents and choosing an equipment service provider who offers hassle free, responsive and dependable service programs will enhance not only your financial outcomes, but also your reputation.

For more information contact Craig Harmon toll free at (855)-4DEFIBS, or email Harmon at craig.harmon@cardiotronixhealth.com.

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