The call comes into the biomed service dispatch center from the hospital nursing floor, “We have ‘down equipment’ please send up a loaner.” Sure, all hospitals have hundreds, if not thousands, of medical equipment devices in their inventory but are any of these really “loaners” to be used at a moment’s notice when an urgent need arises? Isn’t all of the medical equipment in the hospital’s inventory already assigned to a specific clinical department? If so, why is there this perception? It is usually stemming from the clinical user point of view that somewhere in the hospital there is a cache of “loaner equipment” stowed away that biomed has access to and can deploy at a moment’s notice?
These are good questions and asks alike. The need for and expectation of “loaner” medical equipment in the hospital environment is spoken to in many medical equipment management plans (MEMPs) though this more relates to the incoming inspection process. The actual “bullpen” of spare or loaner medical equipment is really a falsehood in most hospital facilities. Realistically, how many hospitals could really afford to have a moth-balled inventory of unique medical equipment ready for call-up when the installed becomes impaired and requires service? Could the existing medical equipment inventory, depending on its utilization status, be considered in the “loaner” category? As HTM professionals ask yourself, “How could I solve these critical equipment contingency needs when they arise?”
The expensive rental of medical equipment is exercised within hospitals and other health care settings, but this generally relates to scaling up or down of equipment such as infusion pumps and ventilators. Patient monitors and defibrillators may have a small “loaner” base in the hospital inventory, but many times even those bread-and-butter devices are limited when it comes to available “loaner” quantities on hand.
Is there a pinpoint solution or an enabling factor in which every piece of medical equipment always has an immediate “loaner” that can easily be substituted into the clinical environment? The hospital’s clinical operations plan says so and, in reality, all patient-centered contingency plans are required to deliver upon this to assure patient safety is never compromised. So, the challenge and opportunity for HTM professionals is to aid in your hospitals responsibility as it relates to medical equipment “loaner” contingency resources. If you are not actively engaged in this, get involved and be part of the solution not the problem!
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