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How to Eliminate Mobile Medical Equipment Availability Issues

Posted by Alexandra Carney on Mar 31, 2015 12:29:00 AM

In Departmental Communication, Equipment Hoarding, Safety, Service Performance Management

Fixing Equipment Availability and Trust Issues Across Departments


If you work in a nursing or equipment services department, you understand that the relationship between your two departments isn't always rainbows and sunshine. Through this GIF story, learn how to conquer very real communication barriers and reestablish trust between your nursing and equipment services departments.



1. A Battle of the Departments

It is not uncommon to experience a massive breakdown in trust between nursing and equipment services departments in a hospital. Historically poor equipment delivery times and an overall lack of communication across departments can have everyone pointing fingers as to who is at fault.

2. Putting Lipstick on a Pig

It seems as though building a new facility, or mass implementing a new tracking technology should help alleviate some departmental tension. But despite moving to a state of the art medical tower, or being able to see where equipment is on a map, many hospitals still suffer from sub-optimal equipment delivery times and lower than desirable equipment utilization. 

3. Nurses Cannot Get Equipment On Time

Nurses across the country consistently report unacceptably lengthy delays for pieces of medical equipment. What could possibly be taking so long, and why is this such a consistent problem? Untimely equipment delivery is frustrating for nursing as well as detrimental to the continuum of care; running the risk of extending length of stay and potentially undesirable outcomes. 

4. Missing Equipment and Lost Requests

Do you remember the days when you had to order a pizza by phone? There was no telling where your pizza was, whether they had run out of pepperoni since the time you ordered, or when the delivery guy was on his way. Metaphorically speaking, many Equipment Services departments are forced into becoming the busy pizza shop that only accepts phone orders. While calls from frustrated nurses bog down the phones, equipment requests get lost on answering machines, and scribbled on misplaced post-it notes; all to find out that the department was fresh out of pepperoni...I mean, infusion pumps to begin with.

5. Nurses Take Matters in to Their Own Hands

How can nurses provide care to their patients when there is no faith in a timely equipment delivery system? With a seeming lack of bedside medical equipment, it is all too common for nurses to take matters into their own hands by hoarding and hiding the equipment they need. In a high pressure situation, it may seem more important to deliver some type of care than no care at all. 

6. Does That Mean Dirty Equipment? Yuck.

Although nurses have the best intentions at heart, managing equipment themselves oftentimes leads to inefficient cleaning protocols. While hoarding allows nurses to provide care to their patients quickly, this solution only fuels hospital wide equipment availability problems. While hiding equipment may provide short-term peace of mind, hospitals need to realize that there is a bigger problem to address.

7. If We Can See Where Equipment Is, Will That Fix the Problem?

Since equipment location seems to be part of the challenge, individually tracking each piece of medical equipment with a Real Time Location System may seem like a fool proof solution. However, after investing in RTLS, many hospitals find that basic location information provided by the system still does not alleviate their challenges of equipment availability, distribution, and end use. 

8. What Does Dots on a Map Really Solve?

"Just because you put tags on all of your stuff, doesn't mean your problems will go away"

Dots on a map might tell you where mobile medical equipment is, but then what? What if a nurse goes to retrieve that piece of equipment and it is on a patient, broken, or dirty? Conducting pump round-ups to track down any available equipment that isn't being used is simply a waste of time that could be spent caring for patients. Even with tracking tags on all assets, simply referring to dots on a map will keep nursing departments in the "pump management" business. 

9. Process, Process, Process

OK, so maybe RTLS isn't enough to solve equipment availability problems. Then what is? Without people and process, equipment availability challenges are never going to fix themselves. By establishing a closed-loop distribution model for equipment, trust can be quickly reestablished between supply chain and nursing. 

10. Equipment Now Shows Up in Record Time

By properly streamlining operations, everyone can be held accountable for their actions and all departments can be on the same page, resulting in dramatically decreased equipment delivery times and soaring equipment utilization.

11. Trust Reestablished

Now, not only are patients much safer, but nursing and equipment services can trust that each department will get their job done. No more chasing equipment means nurses can get back to what they do best: taking care of their patients. 

While the GIFs may lighten this story, it is important to understand the enormous transformations that many hospitals have accomplished through reevaluating their operations. Any department can have a tremendous impact on equipment delivery time while helping to improve departmental communication simply by properly streamlining operations. 


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