Day in the (Hospital) Life: Ensuring medical equipment is working

By Eric Valdez May 30, 2014

Chris Riley oversees the equipment in the operating rooms. Identify the equipment: 1, 2, 3 LED surgical lights, 4. Heraeus utility column, 5. Vacuum regulator, 6. Xenon light source used for surgeon headlamps, 7. Irrigated bipolar generator, 8. Steris surgical table, 9. OSI surgical table, 10. STRYKER instrument driver, 11. AquaMantis irrigated bipolar, 12. Kendall SCD, 13. Conmed electrosurgical generator, 14. Drager anesthesia delivery system and GE patient monitoring, 15. Leica neuro surgical microscope

Clinical Engineer Chris Riley oversees the equipment in the operating rooms, maintaining and fixing equipment vital to patient care. He is pictured here with some of the tools he keeps in tip top shape: 1, 2, 3. LED surgical lights 4. Heraeus utility column 5. Vacuum regulator 6. Xenon light source used for surgeon headlamps 7. Irrigated bipolar generator 8. Steris surgical table 9. OSI surgical table 10. STRYKER instrument driver 11. AquaMantis irrigated bipolar 12. Kendall SCD 13. Conmed electrosurgical generator 14. Drager anesthesia delivery system and GE patient monitoring 15. Leica neuro surgical microscope

Inside Clinical Engineering

  • What it is: The Clinical Engineering Department analyzes, fixes and maintains 6,347 pieces of medical equipment used by doctors, nurses, aids and others when caring for patients.
  • Who works there: The five-person team includes Socorro Chavez, who has worked at Wyoming Medical Center for two years; manager Desi Halasz, 22 years;  Jay Norby, 11 years; Chris Reilly, 23 years; and Jason Skinner, 17 years. Each member has a degree in electronics. From there they add on multiple certifications through specialized trainings provided by the equipment manufacturers.
  • Where it is: The clinical engineering shop is located in our engineering building on the east side on Conwell Street, however, you’ll find the technicians in every part of the hospital running diagnostics and safety inspections.
  • Why it’s important: It’s essential that vital equipment in patient, emergency and operating rooms is always available and in good working order for patient care.

Wyoming Medical Center Clinical Engineering Department works in the background, preferring to draw little attention to itself. Each member of the five-person team develops his own area of expertise, but their skills overlap across all areas of the hospital and outside practices.

Clinical Engineering's five-man team includes Chris Reilly (from left), manager Desi Halasz, Jason Skinner, Socorro Chavez and Jay Norby.

Clinical Engineering's five-man team includes Chris Reilly (from left), manager Desi Halasz, Jason Skinner, Socorro Chavez and Jay Norby.

It’s essential that vital equipment in our patient, emergency and operating rooms is always available for patient care. Therefore, Clinical Engineering runs regular machine diagnostics, fixing any problem before it affects patient care. The manufacturer’s technicians work with our clinical engineers to interface with many units over the internet, diagnosing many issues before they occur. The type of equipment they work with is as varied as it is technical: Vacuum regulators, infusion pumps, surgical tables, OR lights, CT scanners, defibrillators and the list goes on.

Every piece of electrical equipment must have an electrical safety check before it goes into service, even the coffee makers and toasters.

Every piece of electrical equipment must have an electrical safety check before it goes into service, even the coffee makers and toasters.

They also troubleshoot real-time problems as they occur. For example, during a brain surgery several years ago, the light on the surgeon's tool went out and wouldn’t come back on. The procedure was halted. The patient was stable and not in any danger while the on-call technician was paged to the operating room, said department manager Desi Halasz.

The on-call technician began troubleshooting. As it turned out, a piece of equipment had been moved which bumped into the switch controlling the light bending the thin metal frame around the switch. The technician bent the frame out and turned the light back on. The procedure continued without any harm to the patient.

The hospital's heavy preventive maintenance program covers 5,059 pieces of equipment per year. As the critical nature of the equipment goes up, so does the requirement for preventative maintenance. Some units only have to be tested and certified when we receive them. Others are put on a yearly preventative maintenance schedule.

The critical life support systems have redundancy built in. This means there is a back-up system for each of those critical systems just in case one quits working properly during a time of need.

“When equipment leaves our shop, we want to feel secure that it could be our own family members who may have to rely on that equipment for care,” Halasz said. “A large portion of our time is spent performing electrical safety inspections and preventive maintenance.”

Jason Skinner oversees the equipment in the cath lab. 1. Philips cath lab 2. Dose aware monitor 3. Mavig surgical light 4. 56" Flexvision monitor, 5. Medrad injector 6. Medrad injector 7. Defibrillator 8. Infusion pumps 9. Xper control module 10. Intravascular ultrasound,IVUS), 11. Power ball outlet strip 12. Medrad control module 13. Physiological monitors 14. Cath lab table 15. Radi pressure wire

Email Article

Send "Day in the (Hospital) Life: Ensuring medical equipment is working" to a friend