Medical Equipment Failures Put Providers In the Crosshairs of Litigation

Medical Equipment Failures Put Providers In the Crosshairs of Litigation

Federal and State guidelines often have specific requirements for the scheduled maintenance of equipment used to diagnose and treat patients. Sadly, these guidelines are rarely followed to the letter, which opens the provider up to possible claims by patients and their attorneys.

Your Legal Justice website states, “There are many different factors that a person may consider when thinking about whether or not a doctor or other medical professional is the right fit for the individual’s medical needs, but determining that the equipment is properly maintained and fully functional likely is not part of the analysis. However, if this equipment fails, it may lead to serious injuries, or even death, which could have been avoided through the exercise of reasonable diligence.”

At the bare minimum, annual Electrical Safety Tests (EST) should be conducted, with the results documented and easily accessed. With all the activity in a healthcare facility, these tasks are often overlooked or not properly recorded.

Your Legal Source again states, “Each piece of equipment or tool has a set of instructions relating to its use and maintenance. This protocol may address calibration, maintenance schedule, or how to program the equipment to get accurate results. In addition, most machines and tools will have procedures for sanitizing them after each use, in addition to more extensive sanitization done on a regular schedule.”

Edge recommends healthcare professionals and facilities adhere to all manufacturer recommendations. Regarding sanitization, Edge regularly sees autoclaves and sterilizers breaking down and needing repair. The nature of these devices, with the combination of heat, moisture and pressure, naturally leads to service requests. Edge continually invests in our technicians by sending them to factory training at Steris, Midmark, SciCan and Tuttnhauer.

Midmark M9 and M11 autoclaves are a standard fixture in medical facilities, while Steris dominates in the hospital markets and SciCan Statim 2000 and 5000 are a staple in the dental and ophthalmology offices. Failure to maintain and sanitize equipment is a key focus if a claim is ever filed.

Healthcare providers rely on sophisticated equipment to diagnose and treat patients. If you religiously change the oil in your car because it prevents breakdowns and is essential to the machine running properly, why not extend the same care to the equipment used to identify and treat serious medical conditions. ECGs, vital signs units, autoclaves, exam tables, thermometers, ultrasounds and many other medical devices are used many times a day on patients to determine their current state and future treatment. Keeping these devices running just as the manufacturer intended, and as they did when first built, is essential to providing proper medical diagnosis.

One example of what attorneys look for when there is a claim, according to Your Legal Source, is how a piece of equipment is maintained: “Part of operating an efficient and effective healthcare facility is maintaining the equipment to prevent failures or dangerous situations caused by unsanitary machines or tools.”

Edge Biomedical not only provides Performance Testing according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, all test results are stored in our proprietary asset management software, eBioTrack. This program not only stores all test results and complete service history, it also reminds the facility when it is time for your next inspection. This assists the staff in properly managing the equipment they rely on. Rarely is it one person’s job to make sure all the equipment inspections are performed, so it is important that the equipment history resides in an online lockbox.

Please contact Edge to see how we can serve your organization.

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