coverBorder collar chafing
I recently read Bob Larkin’s column titled “Where’s the Border?” [June 2001 “Up Front”] and I was rather troubled.

I’m not sure your point was clearly stated. You don’t make any recommendations in your article, but merely say, “We need to open the border between facilities and biomed.” Are you saying biomedical engineering departments need to be merged with facilities, or are you suggesting that there be more communication?

In large hospitals, I would suggest that combining facilities management and biomedical engineering tasks would be disastrous. In our hospital, we have a good rapport with facilities management and often utilize their services. When we are called to troubleshoot a problem and discover that it requires facilities management for the plumbing or some other problem, we simply call our comrades and they arrive on the scene to work in conjunction with us to solve the issue at hand.

I agree that facilities plays an important role in the hospital environment, and that our machines could not work without the power or plumbing maintained by them. I would, however, suggest to you that merging the two departments because our equipment works in conjunction with their supplies would be as ludicrous as merging nursing departments with facilities because they need the light provided by facilities to care for their patients.

I appreciate your article for the thought process it has evoked, but I strongly disagree with your implications.

Lars Wensel

Bob Larkin replies: “Instead of implying that biomed departments fall under facilities — and most do anyway, even if biomeds are loathed to admit it — I suggest overarching ‘technology management’ methods are more appropriate for comprehensive, discipline-crossing medical systems than traditional segregated work-shirt vs. lab-coat responsibilities, particularly when you examine med-gas. Someone will win the Chief Technology Officer job in the future, becoming boss of both facilities and biomed, and political handicapping suggests the odds-on favorites are IT directors and nursing VPs.”

Jumping the tracks
I would like to comment on your article “Asset Tracking in Healthcare” [June 2001]. I appreciate the obvious benefits of being able to track equipment for purposes of distribution and maintenance. However, the third bullet which gives the example of using a computer to search for a defibrillator in the midst of a “code” is quite a stretch. I would not like to be a patient in a hospital so ill-prepared for cardiac arrests that they must use a PC to locate the device that is to save my life. I can hear the bad news: “After your husband arrested we got ‘illegal operation’ on the computer. We’re very sorry.”

Mike Capuano, CBET
Hamilton Health Sciences
Hamilton, Ontario