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If you think about it, in life we spend a lot of time maintaining things. We maintain our car by getting oil changes, we maintain our dental health by brushing our teeth, we maintain our home by tidying up every once in a while. Maintenance is such an ingrained part of our lives that we don’t ever really think about it. But what would happen if we stopped doing this kind of maintenance? Our cars could stop working and leave us stranded or worse, cause an accident. Our teeth could fall out. And we could end up on the new season of Hoarders. 

Maintenance should be something we do and don’t have to think about too much because it’s important. Maintenance in a healthcare setting should be no different. Hospitals are required to maintain facilities, supplies, and equipment to ensure an acceptable level of safety and quality for patients, and also meet industry standards for inspection. 

What are those acceptable levels and industry standards, and how difficult are they to maintain? Let’s find out!

Standards and Guidelines

In 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updated the Hospital Equipment Maintenance guidelines, and many hospitals struggled to meet the demands of them. Some of the new requirements include:

  • Ensuring that the condition of a healthcare facility is safe for both the patients and staff.
  • Making certain that medical supplies are of an acceptable quality and are stored in the correct manner.
  • Hospitals must identify the equipment that is needed to satisfy the patient’s needs for daily operations and emergency situations.
  • All medical supplies and equipment must be adequately inspected, and hospitals need to follow the maintenance schedules outlined by the manufacturers of the product.

The Joint Commission’s project REFRESH, instated in Jan. 2017, further modified the standards by creating a comprehensive method of categorizing risk for all aspects pertaining to medical equipment maintenance. The “A” scoring category was previously used only for high-risk, life-sustaining equipment, such as bypass machines and ventilators. It required Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) professionals to complete 100 percent of scheduled maintenance on such devices. Now, the recent law requires this same pass/fail standard to be applied to non-high-risk equipment as well. The previously accepted 90 percent of scheduled maintenance is no longer acceptable.

Methods of Managing Equipment Maintenance in Healthcare Organizations

Hospitals have tried to manage this by way of clinical engineers, but a gap in the system becomes quickly undeniable. Clinical engineers who are hired to maintain and repair equipment are expected to oversee risk management. As is the case with many roles in healthcare right now, there are not enough engineers and technicians in one hospital to meet the demands of this critical role. It leads to cutting corners for lack of time and relying on industry experience alone rather than precisely following state and federal regulations.

This approach has no chance at success, especially with rigorous requirements like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that determine a hospital’s reimbursement status. Additionally, accreditation requirements, equipment recalls and alerts, and the state department of health rules must all be assessed and maintained. The deadlines in and of themselves are challenging to keep track of and ideally require a full-time risk manager or safety officer who works closely with clinical engineering.

Risk Managers and Healthcare Equipment Maintenance

Risk managers are the people who have been tasked with managing the potential risks of an organization and mitigating any potential losses their institution might sustain. While risk managers play a vital role in all industries, their support in healthcare is essential for ensuring that the livelihoods of patients and the staff caring for them are in top condition. As standardization guidelines continue to evolve over the years, risk managers must ensure that their healthcare organization is compliant with the newly introduced regulations. 

As such, a risk manager is responsible for undertaking numerous tasks to ensure the safety of the organization. Some of the duties performed by risk managers in healthcare include:

A risk manager must develop:

  • A medical equipment maintenance plan.
  • Inventory, which consists of medical supplies, wellness products, prescriptions for patients, and a variety of other purchases.
  • A preventive maintenance schedule for every device in the hospital.

The risk manager must know:

  • When state surveys take place annually so that data is readily available.
  • When CMS occurs – every 15 months.
  • When the Joint Commission occurs – every 18 months to 3 years.

Steps For Correctly Performing Medical Equipment Maintenance

The repercussions of a lackadaisical approach to medical equipment maintenance can be costly and can put a hospital’s regulatory compliance at risk. Without adhering to proper compliance protocol, hospitals place both their patients and their employees at risk and might incur potential lawsuits should their patients sustain injury. To stay ahead of the curve, here are the steps to follow:

  • Document inventory

Without proper inventory management, it is impossible to meet the compliance requirements. Often, the equipment listed in inventory is no longer on the market, or it is a duplicate listing. Worse, the machine may still be in use but not listed in the inventory. 

Properly documenting inventory assists an organization’s medical equipment maintenance by ensuring that employees have access to an accurate and visible account of their inventory. Additionally, sufficient records of inventory will allow healthcare institutions to better keep track of the cost of the inventory and project forecasting for when they need to buy more equipment in the future.

  • Document a preventive maintenance schedule

Through preventative maintenance, a healthcare institution can ensure that their equipment is well maintained and ready to use when needed the most, which will help avoid unexpected breakdowns. Performing a schedule for maintenance helps keep all of an organization’s equipment in top performance and helps reduce costs over time. 

A preventive maintenance schedule should be kept for all medical devices regardless of whether the equipment is leased, rented, physician-owned, hospital-owned, or loaned. History of the device maintenance should be attained for older equipment the hospital acquires. 

  • Elect to develop an Alternate Equipment Management (AEM) program

As an alternative option, hospitals may elect to establish their own program for maintenance logging, which is referred to as an Alternate Equipment Management (AEM) program. For each specific piece of equipment, the hospital must either adhere completely to the manufacturer’s recommendation, or they must have the data to support the decision to deviate from it.

As stated in A-0724 regarding new equipment, “If a hospital later transitions the equipment to a risk-based maintenance regimen different than the manufacturers’ recommendations, the hospital must maintain evidence that it has first evaluated the maintenance track record, risks, and tested the alternate regimen.”

  • Elect a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) Maintenance Log

Managing all of the stipulations for compliance can be overwhelming and nearly impossible. Electing a CMMS to organize the data and inventory and to remind you of the crucial deadlines takes all of the guesswork and stress out of the equation. 

MedTrainer’s system for equipment maintenance logs manages all of these tedious tasks and implements equipment manuals, manufacturer information, and equipment contacts. You can set reminders and assign certified users on staff to particular pieces of equipment with ease, which makes complying with equipment maintenance standards far easier for healthcare organizations to accomplish. 

The efficiency of utilizing such software allows healthcare organizations to improve the productivity of their workflow.

Contact MedTrainer Today to Learn More About Our Beneficial Software

Maintaining records of your equipment maintenance logs is not the only way MedTrainer’s software can assist the operations of your healthcare organization. Our healthcare compliance software will support your company by streamlining tedious and time-consuming tasks so your staff can have more time on their hands. For example, our training programs can help your employees receive compliance and ethics certification much more efficiently. Contact us today to learn more about the ways your institution will benefit from integrating our software.