Medical equipment and devices that provide measurement data can be critical in patient care. This includes the measurement of patient temperature, blood pressure, refrigerator/freezer temperatures, room humidity, patient weight, blood values, diagnostic imaging, and the like. These devices often require calibration to ensure the data they provide is accurate and supports safe patient care; however, many organizations are not addressing this requirement. We have observed in multiple organizations that calibration has not been maintained for medical equipment. Most prevalent have been thermometers used with medication and nutrition refrigerators. Additionally, a review of weight scales for adults and infants has demonstrated that their required periodic re-calibration has not been maintained per the instructions for use (IFU). A review of daily maintenance logs for diagnostic imaging equipment, which often includes calibration, has revealed missing entries.
The impact of uncalibrated equipment can vary greatly. Refrigerators not storing food/medications at the proper temperature can result in food-borne illnesses or medications that are not potent. Weight scales that do not provide accurate rates can impact weight-based dosing for pediatric patients. Vital signs that are inaccurate due to uncalibrated equipment can result in withholding or providing interventions that may result in detrimental outcomes.
Some considerations and recommendations to ensure your medical equipment and devices are calibrated and ready for use:
- Review your medical equipment and device IFU to understand your organization’s equipment calibration requirements. Some devices may require calibration prior to each use, whereas others may require periodic calibration (annual). Some may only require calibration after moving the device or none at all. Your biomedical team should be able to provide you with copies of the IFUs.
- Encourage staff, if the results do not seem right, to seek a replacement piece of equipment and verify/validate the results prior to implementing any interventions. If results are not validated, sequester the equipment for repair.
- Consider incorporating periodic calibration into your organization’s biomedical equipment maintenance schedule. Ensure that calibration is documented and that staff are aware of the calibration status of the equipment they use.
- For those conducting calibration of equipment: ensure that the devices that are used to calibrate equipment are current on their calibration maintenance if required. Refer to the IFU.
Leaders should include a review of equipment calibration with their rounding. Most importantly, staff should be aware of the calibration requirements of their equipment and ensure they are following its guidance. This will ensure that our healthcare teams are provided with accurate data to treat their patients.
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Courtemanche & Associates specializes in Healthcare Accreditation and Regulatory Compliance Consulting Services. With over 29 years of being in business and 100+ years of healthcare experience amongst our consulting team, we are ready to assist with your accreditation and regulatory compliance needs.