Amid a debate over how hospitals should best maintain medical devices, the Association for the Advancement of Medical instrumentation (AAMI)s upcoming Standards Week will mark the start of an effort to draft a recommended practice for healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals.
During the week, which runs Dec. 3-7, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Fla., more than 15 committees and working groups will convene and discuss new standards for infusion pumps, catheters and other devices. Most of the meetings will be open to the public, who are encouraged to attend and learn how standards are developed.
The Medical Equipment Management Committee will kick off work on a recommended practice to help HTM professionals develop the process and methodology for equipment evaluation and maintenance strategy, according to Britton Berek, national compliance director for Sodexo Healthcare Facilities Solutions, and a member of the committee.
HTM departments and service companies have historically set a devices preventive maintenance (PM) frequency or schedule. The problem is the procedures used to determine that frequency can vary from facility to facility, and are not based on outside evidence or collaboration, reads a proposal to create the document. This has caused a variation about what is actually being done to verify these devices and systems are functioning properly and safely.
The document is expected to address questions about maintenance recommendations. If the manufacturers guidelines are not available, the recommended practice will show how to develop an effective PM process, says Julio Huerta, technology director for ARAMARK Healthcare Technologies in Chapel Hill, NC, and a committee member.
The recommended practice is being developed as HTM departments deal with the ramifications from a nearly year-old memo from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The clarification memo reinforced limits on equipment maintenance, emphasizing that hospitals have little discretion when it comes to setting PM schedules and must follow manufacturer recommendations in most cases.
The exceptions would be equipment not considered to be critical to patient health and safety and even then only after the HTM department has a sufficient amount of maintenance history on the device.
Late this summer, CMS told AAMI in an e-mail that it was working on an updated memo, but it provided no timeline on when it might be released or what it would say. AAMI and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering met with CMS officials earlier in the summer, asking the agency to look anew at the issue in light of the concerns raised by many HTM departments. The two organizations also submitted approximately 250 pages of data about maintenance practices to CMS in response to questions the agency raised at a June meeting.