Not knowing the answer to any problem can be frustrating. One can find themselves in a conundrum when spending hours attempting to find the answer and end up going back to the drawing board. No one wants to exacerbate the problem after spending hours troubleshooting. There are seven steps that I follow to troubleshoot any challenges that I encounter. Here are the steps I use:
1. Prioritize the problem
If there is only one issue, then it is an easy decision to make. However, when there are multiple problems to tackle, then you or your manager will have to choose the more urgent problem. Another way to help prioritize the problem is dependent on back-up or loaner equipment availability.
2. Verify the problem
The best way to verify the problem is to verify the problem yourself. If you are not able to respond in a timely manner, then communicate to the actual user and ask questions to get a better description of the issue. Examples of questions you can ask are what did he/she observe or when did the problem occur?
3. Find the problem
There are many ways to find the problem. One way is to use four of your five senses. This means looking for signs if the device is cracked or burned. Listen for noise like clicking or squeaking. Smell for something out of the ordinary like a smoke or a gas leak. Feel if something is loose, wet or giving off excessive heat. Another way is to look for common faults such as checking to see if the power cord is plugged in or if the switch is turned on. A third way to find the problem is to get the service manual and use the diagram, troubleshooting table or error code list. If the service manual does not work, then call the company or vendor.
4. Repair the problem
This is when you determine what part is needed to order for the repair if you do not have the part in stock. Make sure the part needed is the correct one by verifying the part with technical support from the manufacturer. One can also verify with a coworker or look at the history in previous work orders.
5. Put device back together
Once you get the part for the repair, there are different ways to help you put the device back together. You can take a picture on your phone to document the process of disassembly that you performed to find the issue. You can also make notes, tag wires and keep parts in logical order. I personally like using small trays/containers to organize screws and bolts.
6. Verify the repair
Perform operational and safety testing such as an electrical safety check. Make sure it meets factory specification. The best advice that I was given in school and on the job regarding repair of any medical equipment is to ask myself the question, “Would you want this device used on yourself or a loved one?” This helps put all of the work and repair into perspective and reminds me why I chose this career in the health care field. Also verify with staff using the device and educate staff when necessary.
7. Document the repair
It is important to document your repairs in your work order. Documentation is very important, especially when someone from regulatory compliance asks you for paperwork on a specific device. Also, you can check the history and use it for future repair.
All seven steps have helped me simplify even the most complicated challenges or problems I have encountered. This is what I was taught and what works for me. Everyone will have his or her own way of troubleshooting. Others might use a different tactic when troubleshooting issues with medical devices. Hopefully this guide helps give a fresh perspective for troubleshooting medical devices.
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