New Medical Equipment Maintenance Standards Stretch Resources, But Don’t Skimp

New Medical Equipment Maintenance Standards Stretch Resources, But Don’t Skimp

The Joint Commission recently amended their equipment maintenance standards to align more closely with the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services. The new regulations require hospitals and other facilities seeking Joint Commission accreditation to restructure old asset management plans, perform a full, documented inventory, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations to the letter (Edge Performance Plan), identify high risk equipment and closely monitor and confirm their service providers’ certifications.

All these changes require more time, money and resources. Edge’s experience with the hard-working biomed departments in most facilities is that they are treading water; struggling to keep up with the never-ending demands to service and maintain the hundreds of pieces of equipment the healthcare providers depend on to diagnose and treat patients.

Prior to the changes, the level of maintenance required to pass/approve a device for further use open to debate. Now the recommendations of the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) are to be followed precisely. Edge understands that all healthcare facilities operate on a tight budget and there is a consistent, comprehensive effort to save money in any, and all, areas. We do recommend, however, that skimping on medical equipment maintenance in the short-term can have negative long-term effects on budgets.

Medical equipment innovation is a proud American industry and new products are improving patient care and helping us live longer, productive lives. However, the massive initial investment in diagnostic and treatment devices is not a one-time purchase. Equipment maintenance is recommended and required to keep the machines running properly AND to extend their useful life.

We often get the question, “Why do I need to have annual inspections when I’ve never done them before?” Edge feels there should be an obligation to the patient to have well-maintained, accurate equipment that will determine treatment, medication and dosages as a result of the diagnosis the equipment provides. This is no small thing. A recent study found a high percentage of scales are significantly inaccurate . I know my physician would be alarmed if I weighed 15 pounds heavier over the course of a year…but what if that figure was off by 10 lbs, or less than 5% of my weight. That discrepancy is the difference between a, “hey, lay off the carbs and start exercising,” and “we need to look at changing your meds.”

My father has a home blood pressure machine that he uses to monitor his BP 3 times a day, recording each reading and reporting back to his primary care physician weekly. When the #s seemed off, the doctor asked him to bring the BP machine in on his next visit. It turns out that the readings were off because the unit needed to be calibrated. My father is 72 years old and on quite a cocktail of medications. It is very important to me that those meds are being prescribed based on good data.

As healthcare providers struggle with ever-tightening budgets, Edge’s recommendation to not cut equipment maintenance efforts may seem self-serving. I would say, “Our job to keep your equipment in top shape for as long as it can possibly be safely and efficiently utilized.” We do not sell equipment and have no incentive to recommend you spend more money on replacements. We will, however, be honest about equipment’s useful life and possible ongoing maintenance costs because we strive to be your go-to resource to give you honest, useful, and frugal advice on how to most efficiently provide superior patient care. In short, we want to be your Partner for Life.

*Becker’s Hospital Review content contributed to this article.

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