Recently, MD Publishing posted an excellent article entitled, ‘Cover Story: Strategies For Success,’ which is all about the ways in which clinical engineering professionals can and should track and manage medical devices and why this is important. The article not only spotlights the requirements of The Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies more than 18,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, but other regulatory and standards bodies as well.
The article does a terrific job of setting up what could be a worst case scenario for the unprepared:
Picture this: Two years have passed since the Joint Commission last paid a visit to your facility. Everything in the biomed shop is going along swimmingly until surveyors suddenly show up unannounced on a random Tuesday. The first task on their agenda is to evaluate your medical device inventory to ensure that all equipment is adequately managed and on a stringent PM schedule. After all, to the Joint Commission, it’s all about ensuring that you’ve established a current, precise and unique inventory of all devices under your care, regardless of ownership.
The author of the piece, Keri Forsythe, goes on to present four specific strategies for coping with this eventuality. Not surprisingly, device barcodes and RFID tags are prominently referenced by several of the sources in the story. For example:
Harvest Data Systems Senior Developer Richard Overturf, BS, CBET, believes success starts with a solid foundation. “An accurate inventory is the essential first step in compliance with all state and federal regulatory agencies, as well as DNV, International Organization for Standardization, Joint Commission and National Integrated Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations requirements,” he says. To achieve this, Overturf explains that each medical device should be assigned a unique identification number via an ID tag, a sticker, a barcode label or a radiofrequency identification (RFID) tag.
Another attribution and quote comes from AeroScout’s Director of Healthcare Solutions Joel Cook: Taking
this notion one step further, he encourages biomedical departments to invest in a real-time location system (RLTS) and utilize Wi-Fi RFID tags on critical assets and all medical equipment requiring preventive maintenance. “This enables staff to quickly locate equipment needed for maintenance, repair or recall,” Cook says.
I’m thinking the coming Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandate for medical device Unique Device Identification (UDI), expected in or around the June timeframe, may make this task easier for all clinical engineering professionals. Of course, UDI will likely achieve other benefits in many other ways as well.
In the meantime, do read the entire piece from MD Publishing if you have the time and especially if you are responsible for medical device inventory. You can access it here at this link. For more information about The Joint Commission, their website home page is here. And, for more about barcode and RFID solutions of all varieties and for multiple application needs, much more is available here.