Jonathan Gaev, ECRI Institute

Jonathan Gaev, ECRI Institute

Batteries may be one of the more unglamorous aspects of the HTM professional’s job, but they play a central role. Presenters at the AAMI 2014 session “Why You Should Care About Batteries” offered some advice for ensuring consistent and safe performance.

Dave Marlow, CBET of the University of Michigan Health System, noted that all rechargeable batteries should be labeled with key information: the initial date, the start date of the warranty supplied by the manufacturer, and the date of installation. They should be maintained or replaced according to standard OEM guidelines, unless documentation exists for an alternative management method. It’s important to remember that rechargeable batteries can fail within a year if they are exposed to extreme temperatures for excessive amounts of time, if they are overcharged, or if they are charged and discharged at excessive rates.

Batteries originating with third-party suppliers may pose opportunities for significant, low-risk cost saving, an ECRI Institute study found. Jonathan Gaev and Chris Lavanchy presented conclusions from an ECRI survey conducted in March 2014 with 124 respondents. They found that 90% of respondents would recommend use of equivalent non-OEM batteries. Individuals reported an average of 40% savings compared to purchase of OEM batteries. Those who declined to use third-party vendors cited concerns such as liability, risk of fire (a rare but high-profile occurrence), and potential malfunctioning of the low-battery indicator.

Your third-party supplier is your partner in risk management, Gaev and Lavanchy said, so it’s essential to know and trust the company. Before choosing whether to work with a third-party vendor, Gaev and Lavanchy recommended asking the following questions:

  • Is the company registered with the FDA?
  • Does it comply with quality management systems such as ISO 9000?
  • Does the company manufacturer its own batteries or purchase products from another vendor for resale?
  • If non-OEM batteries are being marketed for a specific device, what steps are being taken to ensure equivalence?
  • What quality level did other hospitals experience from these batteries?

Once deciding to implement third-party batteries, HTM professionals should begin with low-risk devices. Once they gain experience, they can then gradually introduce non-OEM batteries into higher-risk equipment.

Jenny Lower is associate editor of 24×7. She can be reached at [email protected].