Recently reported by media sources around the world is the newly discovered fact exposing the Malaysia Airlines “battery lapse” on Flight 370. Malaysian Airlines has acknowledged the batteries within flight 370’s “black box” were expired and not replaced during a scheduled maintenance cycle. Clearly a serious oversight and appears to have been a strong contributor as to why the beacon “pinging” device had stopped working – if did it all! This recent horrific air industry accident and the maintenance lapse in battery replacement has prompted me to re-play this blog as a reminder to all HTM service professional’s just how important and reliant battery power plays when emergent situations present themselves.
Imbedded in most medical devices either life support or non-critical is a power source so important to its ability in functioning each and every time – the battery. This most crucial of medical device components or consumable, however one desires to characterize it tends to be one of the most misunderstood items when it comes to proactive maintenance planning in a periodic replacement schedule.
The question and debate as to best practices around battery maintenance can vary in the same context as is the glass half full or half empty! Some will refer to the medical devices recommended maintenance procedure (which is a good choice!) while others tend to lean towards home grown experiences or philosophies. Some follow the decision approach to change the battery only when it’s dead as a door nail! In this circumstance those people actual think they are saving money by running the power source bottle (a.k.a. battery) “dry”. What about the device downtime that would now be incurred? The disruption to patient care? Here’s one for you – maybe even endangering the patient because now the device may fail to operate safely and deliver as it was designed! This is a dangerous battery maintenance path especially when life support or invasive medical devices are involved and one should consider how “understanding they would be” if it were them or a loved one utilizing that device for their diagnosis or treatment and the battery failed in turn negatively impacting them in receiving medical attention. I don’t think they would be very understanding!
The variability and reasoning behind many of these philosophies is mind boggling to me. I mean we understand the need to change the battery in our home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least once or twice year. No one wants a fire in their home or a potential silent killer such as carbon monoxide lurking in the homestead. So why would we not change the battery in a defibrillator on a more routine basis? This is definitely a medical device that needs to function fully each and every time it is called upon!
In my opinion proactive battery replacement protocols are equally as important as the clinical alarm mandate of 2014 and beyond. Are we waiting for numerous patient harming events to occur which are battery related to get the attention of the community and drive the patient safety cry! I only hope it is not my loved one or I that have to suffer the unthinkable and become the harmed patient that” turns on the light bulb” to act on this claymore lying out there!
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