This article is a continuation of the previous article on Committee Management, which appeared in the May 2012 issue of 24×7 and discussed successful committee management. This article will review the hospital Medical Equipment Committee. The clinical engineering professional may be a member or chair or co-chair of the Medical Equipment Committee. Depending on the health care organization, this committee may be called the Equipment Committee, the Medical Technology Committee, or the Capital Budget Committee. The term “chair” in this article will be used to mean the chair, co-chair, or coordinator.
In large health care organizations or multihospital health systems, subcommittees or specialty committees may support the main Medical Equipment Committee. For example, radiology equipment comprises the majority of the equipment in most health care organizations, so there could be an imaging subcommittee. Similarly, there could be permanent or ad hoc subcommittees based on the type of equipment, such as patient monitoring or anesthesia equipment, plus others. The purpose of a specialized subcommittee is to bring together all the experts in the respective areas/technology being evaluated into a group.
Role of the Medical Equipment Committee
The basic role of the committee is to review or coordinate new equipment purchases. The other role is to perform strategic equipment planning, which involves developing a process of replacing existing equipment that is due for replacement. In a hospital or a health care system, equipment evaluations should be done consistently and technology planning should be done systematically. This ensures equipment standardization from department to department, which leads to standardized parts ordering, service, and user training.
The Medical Equipment Committee provides a forum in which all affected departments that are involved with equipment purchase and replacement collaborate and are aware of the process. Additionally, depending on the health care system, the committee may manage other equipment-related issues, such as handling medical equipment recalls and alerts, monitoring use errors, overseeing the acquisition process, and improving technology management within the organization.
Medical Equipment Committee Membership
The committee should include representatives from administration, finance, nursing, medicine, surgery, radiology, laboratory, respiratory, pharmacy, performance improvement, purchasing, materials management, infection control, sterile processing, engineering/facilities, information technology, and biomedical/clinical engineering. Biomedical/clinical engineering plays an important role and provides input in the acquisition and selection process based on their knowledge of the maintenance history of a particular equipment type, its reliability, availability of parts/service, estimated maintenance costs, safety, warranty, maintainer training and test equipment needs, and their experience with vendors.
Clinical engineering should review all equipment requests. They should work with engineering/facilities to verify that there is adequate space and utilities, and work with information technology regarding networked medical equipment and information security requirements.
The Medical Equipment Committee, with the assistance of clinical engineering and users, should prepare documents that compare the specifications, cost, and advantages and disadvantages of competing manufacturers/models. Users should be part of the equipment evaluation process, which will guarantee that new equipment purchases meet the needs of the users. For purchases, equipment from competing vendors should be compared, with the users evaluating the features and options and providing their feedback in writing to the committee. The committee may arrange demonstrations or clinical trials of equipment. For large equipment purchases, the committee may arrange site visits.
The Joint Commission standard EC.02.04.01 EP 1 requires input from the users and maintainers in the equipment selection and acquisition process. The organization must have policies that require biomedical/clinical engineering to be part of the medical equipment committee and other facility equipment selection processes.
Arif Subhan, MS, CCE,is the chief biomedical engineer and co-chair of the equipment committee at the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, Omaha; adjunct assistant professor, biomedical engineering, University of Connecticut; and a member of 24×7’s editorial advisory board. The suggestions and views expressed in this article are of the author. They do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the University of Connecticut. For more information, contact.