MEDICAL EQUIPMENT Patient-Care Equipment

Equipment used ‘‘on’’ patients or ‘‘for’’ patient care in health­care facilities is both varied and numerous. It runs the gamut from simple thermometers to sophisticated MRI machines. Equipment used ‘‘on’’ the patient, such as an electrocardio­gram (ECG) monitor, is readily visible in the patient’s imme­diate physical vicinity. Equipment used ‘‘for’’ patient care, such as a clinical chemistry analyzer, may be housed in a laboratory at a location remote from the patient. Both types are important when considering the environment of patient care.

Medical equipment falls mainly into three different catego­ries. These categories are diagnostic, therapeutic, or assistive. Diagnostic equipment such as a monitor acquires data and uses transducers to enhance and supplement human senses. Therapeutic instruments such as high-voltage X rays, pace­makers, and defibrillators arrest or control physiological pro­cesses affected by disease or trauma. Assistive devices supple­ment diminished or lost functions, and include life-support (ventilator) and life-sustaining (dialysis unit) devices (27).

The equipment that a typical university hospital clinical engineering department such as the Scientific and Medical Instrumentation Center is responsible for (excluding x-ray or ionizing radiation devices) runs to 10,000 active items. These include capital and noncapital devices. Capital devices are classified as costing greater than or equal to $500 per item. Noncapital devices cost less than $500. To describe this equip­ment approximately 500 different equipment nomenclatures are used. This alone shows the diversity of knowledge that a clinical engineering staff must have.

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