Quality of Machine Service Questioned

Elsie E. Meyers, M.D.

To the Editor

Thank you for the APSF Newsletter which describes the Anesthesia Apparatus Checkout Recommendations that we routinely follow. I am concerned about the “valid inspection sticker”. I believe it is generally thought that this implies service by a trained representative of the anesthesia machine supplier and that, according to a rather costly contract, this factory trained workman tears down the machines at least once a year, replaces rubber and worn parts, and replaces all vaporizers with factory cleaned and calibrated ones. Between his visits, a “trained” member of the biomedical engineering (BME) department makes emergency repairs. This is in the best of worlds.

Practically, there can be a different scenario: The maintenance and repair contract with the anesthesia machine company is not made, for reasons of economy. Instead, members of the BME department are trained for a week at a school conducted by one of the anesthesia machine companies. They are then deemed competent to do all routine maintenance and make emergency repairs on a variety of anesthesia machines. The result of such an arrangement is that, even after the anesthetist’s careful check out as recommended, disastrous break-downs and malfunctions occur.

In my view, the greatest service that can be made by the APSF is to provide standards for anesthesia equipment maintenance and repair personnel, so that a “valid inspection sticker” would indicate a machine that should be safe

Elsie E Meyers, M.D. St. Louis, MO