Clinics and hospitals are under the strictest scrutiny from federal and state agencies tasked with monitoring the operational conditions, both in patient care and the general maintenance of hospital equipment and facilities. No matter what size, any patient care organization should have comprehensive maintenance plans and procedures in place to help ensure compliance, with robust scheduling software designed specifically for hospitals to manage it all.
But even with the focus on regulatory compliance, remember that the purpose of your entire hospital maintenance apparatus is to ensure the safety and well-being of patients. Your maintenance program has a direct and measurable impact on their treatment outcomes. Going above and beyond what is required, especially when guidelines are ill-defined, will often position your organization in a very good compliance posture.
Equipment Testing and Calibration
Biomedical equipment, radiological devices, hospital beds, IV infusion equipment, ventilators, lab equipment and everything else that requires preventive maintenance and upkeep should be scheduled for such on a regular basis.
Equipment maintenance for elevators, generators, HVAC systems, medical gas systems, air compressors and pneumatic systems should be scheduled too. These underlying systems are critical to the operation of a hospital, and can become expensive to repair correctively.
All calibration and testing should be performed by qualified clinical engineers or other qualified maintenance personnel according to state and federal laws and regulations, as well as the recommendations of the equipment manufacturers. Testing for performance and safety before use and after scheduled and unscheduled maintenance should become standard procedure.
Inventory Management and Storage Control
Your maintenance plan should cover the proper replenishment and storage of both medical and maintenance supplies. This includes their storage, transportation throughout the hospital and the disposal of the waste that their use generates.
Disposal protocols for medical waste are likely already an integral part of your operations, but improper disposal of non-medical waste can be problematic for sanitation and patient comfort as well. At no point in the storage or use of any supplies should patients be put at risk, either by blocking hallways and other hospital areas or violating fire codes (especially regarding flammable and toxic substances).
Maintenance should also include tasks and equipment that prevent theft, damage, deterioration or contamination of those supplies. The plan should cover contingencies for unexpected events as well. Is your hospital prepared for a mass-casualty event, such as a natural disaster or a pandemic? Your inventory management will be key to ensuring that said supplies are available when needed.
Customizing Hospital Maintenance Systems
There will be operational gaps within federal and state regulatory guidelines that you will need to fill in with your own procedures as a matter of course. For both equipment and supplies, stringent policies regarding use and maintenance should be implemented even (perhaps especially) if none are recommended by the manufacturer.
Your region, climate, patient demographics and even the design of your particular facility may place constraints on your ability to be in compliance as well. All of these external variables should be addressed with specific changes to your maintenance schedules and reviews to be sure that you can document a good-faith effort to safeguard the safety and health of hospital patients.
Your periodic review of emergency procedures and supplies should be performed by your hospital’s safety and clinical maintenance personnel. As patient care initiatives and changes in other departments occur, your plan will evolve and new procedures will be developed.
When was the last time your hospital’s policies and procedures were seriously overhauled? Do you feel like your maintenance and inventory control plans have prepared your facility for emergency conditions?