According to the FDA, up to 50 percent of service calls in hospitals surveyed are battery-related issues. Your hospital or clinic relies heavily on battery-powered medical devices to ensure patients receive the care they need when they need it most. Ask yourself this question: will the batteries you installed reduce downtime and keep devices running? Subpar performance or unexpected battery failure can have serious consequences on patient care and operational efficiency. To avoid battery-related risks, follow these four tips to ensure your devices perform at their fullest potential.
Find the Right Battery for the Device
From device requirements to battery specs and quality, there are a variety of considerations when selecting the right battery.
It may seem obvious, but you must match the battery to the device requirements. Using a battery that doesn’t have the proper specifications puts you at risk of damaging the device and sacrificing performance. This can lead to increased risk of failure for the people who are relying on it to function as it’s intended.
Pay close attention to manufacturer requirements such as voltage and amp-hour ratings and find a battery that you trust to meet that performance. You should also check terminal type to ensure a proper connection. It is more important to match the requirements than trying to overpower the device or save money with a battery rated below what is recommended. A perfect match combines power rating, terminal type and size. You may have chosen the right battery for the system and at a lower cost, but can you trust it will perform as advertised? Not knowing if the battery will live up to the specs printed on the label is a serious problem that could leave you and the patient at risk.
Don’t gamble on quality to save money. Make sure your supplier has a quality management process in place. Remember, printed specs are only part of the equation when choosing a reliable backup power source.
Use Freshly Charged Batteries
Batteries should be tested and charged (if needed) before they are put into use. The importance of battery freshness and a full charge isn’t often considered but the impact on performance can be huge. As an example, Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries that have been sitting too long (typically 6+ months) can begin to sulfate, which deteriorates their capacity and compromises the battery’s overall function. Recent regulations require Lithium-ion batteries to be shipped at a state of charge not exceeding 30 percent of their rated capacity. That means you should test and charge these batteries before use to ensure proper performance. In some cases, you may even need to “wake up” the battery, so it will accept a charge. If you are buying from a battery specialist, they can advise you on that process.
Working with a supplier that can guide you on charging and maintenance for the various battery chemistries will help lower the risk of subpar performance when battery power is needed most.
Seek Quality Manufacturers
The reputation of your health care facility is a reflection of the level of care it provides. Shouldn’t the parts and suppliers you use measure up to that same standard of quality?
If a battery fails and patient care is compromised the physicians and leadership team could look to you for answers. Every little detail counts when patient safety and access to important devices is on the line. You need a supplier you can count on to get you the high-quality batteries you need. With such a variety in suppliers and battery choices, the differences in quality are not always obvious.
One way to manage this risk is to ensure the batteries come from a supplier that has implemented a quality management system certified to ISO 13485 standards.
Some may overlook this in components like batteries, but the risk is too great to ignore. Achieving ISO certification means the manufacturer or supplier took the extra step of having a third-party firm evaluate their process to ensure it measures up to the standards set out by the International Organization for Standardization. The importance of regulatory compliance and ISO is also being highlighted by respected trade organizations through training classes and seminars.
Armed with the combination of quality products and a trusted supplier, you can ensure you’re protecting your most valuable assets – patient care, patient satisfaction, operational efficiency and your brand.
Impact of Logistics
What happens when you order a battery for a current or upcoming PM and it’s out of stock? Having a supplier that is local and stocks the batteries you need keeps downtime to a minimum. If they aren’t local, ensure they keep the most common batteries in stock and offer fast and affordable shipping. You don’t want to incur expensive equipment downtime while you wait for the battery to arrive. Having a partner with predictable and reliable shipping or delivery could be the difference in keeping efficiency and quality of care high.
As an HTM professional, you can’t afford to have unexpected battery failures, unplanned downtime or subpar performance. When is the last time you thought about the quality of your medical device batteries? Do you have an efficient solution for delivery and battery services? After all, it’s not just a battery, it’s a life.
Dan McMartin is a supplier quality engineer manager with Interstate Batteries.
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