Medical Equipment: Benefits of Preventative Maintenance

You can feel the excitement in the air when new medical equipment arrives at your clinic!

It’s a fun  new toy to play with and those ugly taped up roll stand baskets are now a thing of the past. As time goes on and the new device smell fades away, a common question often asked is…How do I know if my equipment is functioning properly? Are my ECG readings accurate? Is the screen supposed to flicker? I wonder if my patient will notice the nursing tape holding the cracked case together?  Before you put your device in a closet and slap on a sticky note “Do not use” it's a good idea to consider investing in a Preventative Maintenance Plan. 
There are a lot of benefits to investing in a preventative maintenance plan, many of which can have an immediate impact on your bottom line and maximize your medical equipment's life expectancy. We wanted to provide you with a unique perspective on this topic therefore we reached out to our good friend Rob Rock to share with you his first hand experience with preventative maintenance in a healthcare setting. Rob Rock has 30+ years experience working as one of Sault Area Hospital lead Biomedical Engineers and is maintaining medical equipment on a daily basis. 

Here are his Top 3 Benefits to Medical Equipment Preventative Maintenance

Benefit #1 Lower Maintenance Cost

By inspecting equipment on a regular basis you can reduce major breakdowns by replacing known parts that deteriorate over time from usage. Going unchecked or not replaced, these components could cause a major breakdown of the equipment and require more parts to be replaced as well as placing your patients at risk.
Most manufacturers have put their equipment through thorough testing to determine how long parts will last in the field. They then recommend changing parts at designated time intervals before it deteriorates to a point of breakdown. A good example would be replacing an o-ring inside a piece of equipment that prevents a fluid from leaking out. If you do not replace this o-ring as required by manufacturer’s recommendation, this o-ring could fail causing fluid to leak out and damage more expensive parts in the piece of equipment. So replacing a $5 o-ring regularly could save you replacing a $2,000 circuit board.

Benefit #2 Detection of Possible Malfunction

By performing a preventative maintenance inspection, the technician is opening up the equipment to inspect all the internal parts. The user of the equipment only sees the outside of the equipment and can not see if there is an internal issue that may eventually cause a malfunction.
Going back to our o-ring example; Let’s say that the o-ring is not a part that normally fails and is not on a replacement schedule. If the inspection is being done properly, the leak of that o-ring would be detected earlier preventing a major part failure. Also, if a failure like that occurs while the equipment is being used to treat or monitor a patient, the patient could potentially be harmed and you could be found liable. Finally, if a piece of equipment requires calibration or verification to maintain its accuracy to properly monitor or diagnose a patient’s condition, ignoring the required preventative maintenance can put the patient’s diagnosis and treatment at risk. If the patient is affected, the legal cost would far exceed the cost of regular preventative maintenance.

Benefit #3 Reduce Downtime and Prolong Asset Life

I have combined two benefits here as they go together. By performing regular maintenance you can reduce the unexpected downtime of a piece of equipment due to component failure. Oftentimes during preventative maintenance potential issues are detected before they cause a complete equipment breakdown. Avoiding these catastrophic breakdowns will save you money as we all know your equipment is an income generator and any downtime will have an immediate impact on your daily operations. Furthermore, preventing these breakdowns from happening prolongs your assets life allowing you to hold off purchasing new equipment for a little longer. 
In conclusion, it may seem to be a “waste of money” to pay for preventative maintenance as you do not see results in the short term. However, ignoring these preventative maintenance requirements will cost more in the long run due to more expensive repairs, you could potentially put your patients at risk and shorten the life of the equipment. The old saying “pay me now or pay me later” applies, just depends on how much you want to pay.
We offer free equipment consultations to help you decide which preventative maintenance plan is the right fit for your organization. Fill out the form below to speak with one our specialists and arrange your consultation.