Machine Maintenance Stressed

Michael Shaffer, D.Sc

To the Editor

Dr. Meyers (APSF Newsletter, Dec. 1986) is rightly concerned about standards for in-house technician maintenance when an inspection sticker is applied to an anesthesia gas machine.

Maintenance of modem gas machines now embraces multiple technologies including mechanical, electronic and computer applications for which technicians are seldom adequately prepared. Moreover, with the current proliferation and complexity of hospital equipment, the technicians may also be time-limited and be able to conduct only the most perfunctory tests. Thus their primary standard is often that of ‘passing the ICAH inspection’.

For better quality control, I suggest that we pay more attention to the capability for good maintenance. Manufacturers must provide more self-test and diagnostic facilities in their equipment, and more informative teaching material designed specifically for operator and technician training. For their part, hospitals must train their technicians to be knowledgeable in all the technologies involved, and must optimize their maintenance procedures whereby the maintenance and performance verification can be carried out fast and effectively. In some cases, it could be appropriate that an anesthesiology department determine which technicians are assigned to the work, what they know, and what they do.

Michael Shaffer, D.Sc. Professor, Department of Anesthesiology George Washington University (D.C.).