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Who’s Hiding Medical Equipment?

12 August, 2012 | medical equipment, News

It’s not surprising that increased numbers of mobile medical equipment at hospitals pose a challenge to track their whereabouts; however what is surprising are the findings of a study done by GE Healthcare that equipment is not just disappearing, they are being intensionally hidden by Nurses.

According to the GE study, Nurses spend more than 20 minutes per shift looking for medical equipment. This inefficiency takes nurses away from patients and accumulatively represents a tremendous amount of wasted hours. The study concluded that the perceived unavailability of equipment causes departments to request acquisition of additional devices that ultimately sit unused, wasting facility budgets. More equipment contributes to raising health care costs and ironically further increases the difficulty for nurses to find equipment.

If medical staff feels forced to hoard equipment in the first place, it’s more puzzling why there isn’t improved tracking of equipment? It would stand to reason that medical facilities have a vested interest in protecting their financial equipment investment and would want to optimize staff efficiency, especially since the technology needed to track equipment already exists for different purposes.

Various healthcare information systems like patient and asset tracking systems or material management information systems already operate in many facilities. The patient and asset tracking for example uses tracking chips to locate patients and specific equipment to prevent their exit from the facility and systems for managing scheduling exist. A software company could either adjust an existing program or create a new system for specifically this purpose. The task would not require creating new innovation but rather using accepted methods already available. For now however no apparent organized locator strategy is being implemented to answer this problem.

The influence equipment hoarding is having on hospital efficiency and its costs make this an important issue needing to be addressed and resolved by hospital administrators.