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How Biomedical Solves Equipment Concerns

The biomedical team serves up chips and salsa to PHS staff

We celebrate Healthcare Technology Management Week every year in May. While we know that our biomedical department is a crucial component in keeping the children we care for safe, and healthy at home, we know that many of you may not be familiar with this department. So today, we will take a peek behind the curtain to learn a little more about the Biomedical team at PHS.

The skills and expertise that the biomedical technicians provide and use to collaborate with clinicians means the most complete care for our patients. So what is it, exactly, that they do? Let’s start with the very beginning of their task: What happens when a parent or caregiver calls PHS with a concern about a product or piece of equipment in the home?

We do everything we can to ensure our equipment is functioning safely and properly. When we do receive a concern:

  • We take it very seriously knowing that properly working equipment is critical for children with medical complexities.
  • We also understand that having a piece of equipment that isn’t working is an added stress on our families. We try to make the repair or replacement process as seamless as possible by bringing a rental to your home while we evaluate the piece of equipment. PHS tracks product issues to identify any potential trends or patterns, then we can report design flaws and consistent complaints to manufacturers and work with them to fix the problem. Tracking and trending equipment and supply complaints helps us differentiate between malfunctioning equipment and user errors, the latter indicating a need for additional caregiver training, revised educations materials, or product alerts.

Here’s what happens:

  • When a complaint occurs, the equipment is brought to our biomedical department where thorough testing is conducted per manufacturer specifications and attempts are made to replicate the problem. Additionally, the history of the piece is checked for any similar complaints or trends in malfunction.
  • If the issue can’t be verified and resolved, it goes out to the manufacturer. If the manufacturer can’t verify the issue, it will be sent back to PHS and the family. If they can verify it, the manufacturer will fix it and return it to PHS who takes it back to the family.
  • Tracking and trending helps to identify what may have caused a certain piece of equipment to have issues in the past, such as user error, situational or environmental issues (a bag being lower than the pump and causing it to feed slower), or the equipment itself.
  • MedWatch — PHS submits a MedWatch form to the FDA and the manufacturer whenever we become aware that a device or medication may have caused or contributed to complications with one of our patients, or may have created the potential for complications. The manufacturer must report back to the FDA regarding a problem submitted through MedWatch, therefore there is more responsibility on the manufacturer’s end to follow up on the product complaint (versus if PHS sends a complaint only to the manufacturer).

PHS tracks reportes concerns both by product and by patient. This allows us to identify concerns with a specific product line as well as to identify specific patient uses or treatments that may not be compatible with a certain product.

So although you may never see them, this is a team that does an incredible job of ensuring each and every child has the highest functioning equipment in their homes. Thank you, biomedical department, for the incredible work you do every day. Is there a biomedical equipment technician in your life? Tell them thanks for all they do.


Originally published: May 22, 2013