End of life equals end of use? In my opinion, one of the most valued tasks a biomedical technician can do is keep end of life (EOL) equipment repaired and working. Manufacturers want/need to sunset equipment to make room for new models and retire old technology.
However, replacing expensive medical equipment requires resource planning and sometimes the EOL notice is not given in time for any planning of purchasing to occur. That is when we are called to “perform miracles” to keep things running smoothly and safely. I would like to share some strategies we use to keep our EOL medical running smoothly for our patients.
Due to our expansion, we have had a couple of small hospitals and a few clinics join our system. Unfortunately, these facilities have lacked any significant capital planning and have many pieces of equipment that have EOL letters on them. Fortunately for us, I have a great experienced team and they always work hard to fix this equipment no matter what the OEM says about its life.
It is a great challenge for biomeds to keep EOL equipment running. Typically, the OEM will not give technical advice and their parts inventory can be very limited. We have had success employing a few strategies to keep equipment running. Our first resource is to use PartsSource, our CMMS ties directly to them so we can source the part through their network of vendors. If we cannot get the parts through our regular channels we then dig into our bag of tricks to search for other options. For really old equipment, we can sometimes component-level troubleshoot the problem and purchase components directly from an electronics supply source.
One option that has worked well for us is to keep a couple defective and/or spare units around when possible. This provides us an opportunity to scavenge parts and keep the equipment running. When we don’t have anything in storage, we will look at the used equipment market to purchase a unit for parts or replacement. In many cases we have had a lot of luck utilizing our local company KMA, however there have been times they cannot supply us what we need. When this occurs, I start searching the Internet. While searching for some equipment to scavenge parts from I noticed a “Buy” tab on MedWrench.com. This tab provides a search of over 70,000 listings, from accessories and parts to fully functioning units. Just select what you want, add it to the cart and check out with PayPal. What I liked about the website is the ease of use and intuitive search function. I was really surprised by the amount of items listed. It is one-stop shopping as the listings are from multiple vendors. This is another great place to increase our odds of fixing an EOL piece of equipment.
I feel like given all the things we biomeds get to help with there is nothing more satisfying than repairing an EOL piece of equipment. When I think about the smaller facilities that have joined our system, they have many equipment priorities. Being able to keep some EOL equipment in use helps make resources available for equipment that positively impacts patient care for our communities.
Jim Fedele, CBET, is the director of clinical engineering for Susquehanna Health Systems in Williamsport, Pa. He can be reached for questions and/or comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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