Adverse patient events occur when medical devices fail, but fortunately there are steps HTM departments can take to reduce their occurrence. Below, oneSOURCE Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Heather Thomas shares how strategies such as risk assessment, manufacturer instruction for use (IFU) databases, and professional development all play a role in reducing potentially devastating events. Don’t miss out.

24×7 Magazine: What can you tell us about the current state of adverse patient events?

Heather Thomas: When medical devices fail, adverse patient events/adverse events (AEs) are a typical result. Having prevention strategies in place is key, but first and foremost, it comes back to personnel needing to follow the recommended PM frequency and maintenance serving schedules as outlined in manufacturers’ service and repair materials. In order to decrease AEs in facilities nationwide, it’s important for us and the organizations to understand the underlying cause of the adverse event.

For instance, in various studies over the years, surgical AEs have been known to be higher compared to other types of AEs. Major hospitals such as HCA, Mayo Clinic, and New York Presbyterian Health Systems subscribe to our biomed database to support their HTMs and to help protect their patients from these harmful incidents.

24×7: What’s the importance of a risk assessment?

Thomas: Studies and research have continuously shown that established and ongoing education and training for healthcare workers increases quality of compliance and adoption of best practices, such as infection control and hand hygiene, which then help prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).

Furthermore, [the way a healthcare organization conducts itself and relates to the overall] healthcare system can potentially impact the amount of HAIs. HAI risk factors are typically categorized into three general verticals: medical procedures and antibiotic use, patient characteristics, and organizational aspects. To evaluate the risks associated with these factors, there are three processes HTMs can follow: root cause analyses, failure modes and effects analyses, and tracer methodologies. By assessing the risks associated with HAIs, healthcare providers can influence the rate of these infections.

24×7: How do manufacturer instruction for use, or IFU, databases factor into all of this?

Thomas:The use of manufacturer IFUs is pertinent in the role that HTM and other medical professionals play in creating safe patient environments. Not all manufacturer IFU databases are current, but through third-party tools, like oneSOURCE, the process of verifying that the latest documents are available is completely streamlined. We truly bridge the gap between facility and manufacturer in order to optimize patient safety. Lastly, it’s critical that all stakeholders are engaged in the facilities IFU process so there is no room for misinterpretation.

24×7: How are you managing your alternative equipment methods?

Thomas: One of our DNV accredited partner facilities recently noted that it is impossible to develop alternative equipment methods without having original equipment manufacturer procedures. Thus, documentation is required to demonstrate the facility’s quality of service and products, like oneSOURCE, allow for comprehensive access to these materials.

24×7: How can leadership better instill quality compliance and accreditation?

Thomas:With regulatory requirements and public reporting being at an all-time high, as well as an industry-wide concerned focus on patient safety, facilities seem to be committed to investing in the prevention piece of professional development more than ever. Individuals who are part of the process at a preventative level are an essential component of the infrastructure of these organizations.

The process of continuously evaluating the HTM’s skill set will help determine if they are keeping pace with standard operating procedures deemed by their specific facilities, regulatory bodies, and the manufacturers IFUs.

Certification exams and programs are also a common and warranted step in helping the individual master current procedures and keep their hand on the pulse of trends, insights, and happenings within the industry and/or their specialty. For example, in addition to oneSOURCE serving an internal arm for facilities to connect with manufacturers, we offer ongoing training and education through our platform to ensure leadership and supporting staff fully understand the IFUs and can use the e-binder to its fullest extent for whatever job they need to perform.

24×7: What is one of the most challenging aspects for an HTM addressing the issue of preventing AEs?

Thomas:In such a regulated and rigid role, one faces many challenges, but we frequently hear about the obstacle of coordinating service schedules for equipment. Often, certain engineers in this field will be required to maintain equipment across several facilities and taking record of each piece of capital equipment can be a daunting—and very time-consuming—task.

This challenge also raises other factors to worry about, like manufacturers’ different servicing recommendations, as well as varying  preventative maintenance schedules for each product. After all, clinical staff may have a difficult time detaching from equipment when the HTM needs to complete a specific job.