RMV->) Finding the right service engineer for your medical equipment isn't something you learn in nursing school, but it is something you can learn the hard way. Here's how to get the best service deal.
- Size doesn't matter. Just as calling the phone number on the side of the equipment isn't always the best choice, neither may be hiring the local hospital's moonlighting biomedical technician (decipher this by asking for his office address). Seek out an established company, large or small, with experienced engineers.
- Is the company insured? One of the most important issues is liability. Always ask for a copy of the service's liability policy to keep on file. If the service isn't insured, you're accepting the responsibility for its work, good or bad.
- Is the technician qualified? Anyone can claim to be a biomedical equipment technician. A couple questions can quickly reveal the tech's qualifications. Does he have a certification or a degree in biomedical technology? Does he have a training certificate from the equipment manufacturer, which could substantiate competency on a specific piece of equipment? This is the least desirable scenario if you require service on several different items, but might not be bad if the tech is certified on the specific device that you need serviced.
- Ask for references. If a company can give names and contact information for a couple of professional references, it has probably provided satisfactory service.
- Ask for a Web site address. If the company doesn't have a Web site, this could be a signal that it may not be very stable or solvent.
- To whom will you make out the check? This is the best way to find out if there's a company behind the tech. Small companies might try to convince you that if you make the check out directly to the technician, it can give you a better price. This may mean that there's no company standing behind the work, just a moonlighting tech.
- If you're interviewing a company to provide preventive maintenance on all your equipment...ask to see a sample of its maintenance documentation. Different devices require different maintenance; a blood pressure unit needs pressures verified while an ECG machine needs heart rate detection verified, for example. The lack of appropriate documentation is a warning sign that the company can't provide adequate preventive maintenance.
- Regarding cost. Service cost is most often determined by what area of the country you're in. The best advice I can give is to get a couple estimates. Once you've established a good relationship with a service provider, stick with it, even if someone else comes in with promises of cost savings. Kimberly A. Mariscal, RN
Cleanup OR 2 in Five Minutes
Our environmental services personnel did a good job cleaning the rooms - once they got there, that is. They often seemed to arrive long after the procedures were done. This created a lag in our schedules because incoming surgeons had to wait until the rooms were cleaned. With the help of a simple device, though, we found an inexpensive way to get our rooms turned over more quickly.
We gave pagers to each of our environmental services workers. When a procedure was five minutes from completion, someone on the OR staff would beep them. This gave them enough time to get all their equipment together and be ready to start cleaning as soon as the patient was moved out. Our turnover time is now significantly faster than it was before we began using the pagers. Best of all, we never have to look at empty OR rooms waiting for cleanup any more.
Maureen Harders, MD
Director, Anesthesia for Ambulatory Surgery
MetroHealth Medical Center