Service/Maintenance Impacts Safety

Ralph Braunscweig, M.D.

To the Editor

Dr. Meyers (APSF Newsletter, December, 1986) and Dr. Frazier (APSF Newsletter, June, 1987) express concerns regarding training and standards for in-house technician maintenance of anesthesia machines as well as the qualifications of “third party” service representatives.

In our hospital with six operating rooms, the BMETs (biomedical engineering technicians) have attended “factory” authorized training programs and service all of the electronic monitoring equipment on a regular basis.

We feel that the hazard to the patient of a faulty anesthesia delivery system is so great and the medico-legal implications so significant that we negotiate a preventive maintenance and service contract with the manufacturer for the anesthesia “gas” machines. We feel that a manufacturer’s service representative who services six to ten machines per day has a much greater likelihood of knowing what the inherent problem in a particular machine might be and how to solve it. In addition, the factory representative is trained in servicing new equipment before it comes to market and can be a valuable source of information when decisions to buy new equipment are made.

Incidentally, it is comforting that the manufacturer shares the liability, should there be a problem related to service.

Ralph Braunscweig, M.D.

Chief, Anesthesiology Service Truman Veterans Hospital Columbia, MO