June 13, 2012 | | Comments 4
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How will you know?

One question that comes up from time to time in survey encounters with front-line clinical staff is the very open-ended: How do you know that this piece of medical equipment is safe/ready/OK to be used?

Then there’s generally some conversation regarding the proper operation of the device—making sure there are no error messages, the device powers up, etc. Sometimes, the conversation will also cover the topic of what I will generically call the inspection sticker.

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Filed Under: Environment of care

Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at stevemacsafetyspace@gmail.com.

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  1. Steve, We use frequent environmental rounding, by managers and more importantly, by nursing and technical staff, that require reporting of a specific number of pieces of equipment,(usually 5), control numbers and current “sticker status” on a routine basis. We do offer incentives for performing these surveys and for reporting any outliers to the Biomed dept. directly. We also offer “rewards” for apprehension of “device not found” equipment to the Biomed dept. so our PM’s can be completed. Over time this improves cooperation, builds awareness and contributes to a culture of safety. In our experience, waiting for the various regulatory agency inspectors to check for compliance is not a good plan…

  2. We’ve definitely struggled with this too. We used to have date stickers, but they just confused staff. They couldn’t speak to what the date meant, whether it was when the next inspection was due or when the last inspection was done. Our Biomed director in conjunction with our EOC team decided to get rid of the stickers. Now we just tell staff that if they have problems/questions/concerns with any piece of equipment to contact Biomed.

  3. Shane, have you had an accreditation survey since the removal of stickers on medical equipment? Just curious about your success / experience during a survey.

  4. We’ve had a couple of mock surveys (and we’re due for TJC antime now). None of them have had any issue with our policy as long as staff can speak to it. Sometimes staff can and sometimes they can’t. Our mock surveyors have stressed education. Easier said than done.

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