Most medical devices are battery-powered. How can you ensure that their batteries won’t fail at critical moments, compromising patient safety? Maybe you set up a battery-replacement schedule. But what’s a good way to determine the interval for scheduled replacements? The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin answered those questions — and more — by instituting a battery-analysis program.

 Medical monitors, pumps, ventilators, defibrillators, transport incubators, portable X-ray units and more are powered by rechargeable batteries. Some devices use lead-acid cells, others use nickel-cadmium, and still others use nickel-metal-hydride cells. Add up your inventory: There will be hundreds of battery-operated medical devices throughout the facility.

As the equipment ages, how can we ensure that the system batteries will not fail at the critical moment of use? Scheduled replacements should resolve the issue, but how should the interval be determined? During scheduled maintenance, battery analysis of critical systems and random sampling analysis of noncritical systems can provide the data to determine the intervals of replacement. Predicting the required replacement interval can reduce failure during use and provide the information needed to budget for battery purchases.

Seven years ago at Children’s Hospital of (Milwaukee) Wisconsin, we began using the Christie Electric/Marathon Power Technologies (Waco, Texas) CASP 2000L battery analyzer. The six-channel system uses preprogrammed cables to step through the six channels sequentially, printing reports for each discharge and recharge cycle of the batteries that are connected. The cables can be reprogrammed as the population of batteries changes with new equipment purchases.

The catalyst
Initially, the analyzer purchase was motivated by a recurrent failure of transport isolette batteries, and a need to streamline the testing of defibrillators. As an added benefit, we found that the CASP 2000L immediately identified as “defective” a faulty battery connected for a charge or discharge cycle by printing the result with an asterisk. This helped us to resolve whether the isolette charging system was defective or the battery had failed.

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