Healthcare facilities typically possess medical gas systems to ensure they are available when needed for patient care. These systems require careful monitoring and maintenance to ensure proper operation at these times. They differ from most medical systems and equipment as the gas under pressure in the system leaves it vulnerable to unexpected failures. These failures often aren’t apparent to the average person. As a result, the facilities need to make medical gas preventative maintenance a priority.
Medical gas systems must remain in compliance and pass routine inspect while increasing the safety of patients at the facility. This ensures the medical professionals employed at the facility retain the ability to provide the highest level of care to all. The following serves as a preventative checklist for the employees responsible for monitoring the system. Refer to the checklist for medical gas equipment to prepare for upcoming inspections.
Furthermore, ensure the system undergoes regular maintenance. The maintenance guarantees the facility remains prepared for ongoing maintenance, repairs to prevent a failure of the system, and any survey process. Healthcare facilities need to ask the following questions regarding medical gas system maintenance.
When was the last time they inspected this system? Medical gas systems require timely inspections. As part of this inspection, the inspector must examine certain components, including the alarms, piping, valves, source equipment, flex connections, and inlets/outlets. During a survey, the facility must present all operational, maintenance, and repair documents. Make certain they remain available and complete during this survey.
Are there any concerns regarding airflow or pressure within the system? The average cost of one minute in an operating room runs $72, according to national statistics. When the medical gas systems cannot produce the necessary suction, problems arise. The cost increases and the safety of the patient decline because removing solids, liquids, and waste gases takes longer. The person running the machine cannot achieve the ideal flow rate thanks to the reduced suction.
Are there any concerns regarding potential leaks in the system? If the system produces inadequate suction or vacuum, consider a leak as the source of the problem. This leak increases the operational cost. Furthermore, a lack of adequate vacuum at the wall means the physician can’t titrate the precise level required for the task being performed. Any leak becomes a problem as it negatively affects the quality of care while driving up costs because of material losses. With a comprehensive maintenance program in place, healthcare facilities find they can detect the problems early and rectify them. This prevents the need for frequent cylinder replacement while avoiding gas waste. In addition, proper maintenance ensures a poorly functioning system doesn’t result in source equipment failure or extended procedure times.
Is the system in compliance with all local, state, and federal codes? Healthcare facilities must know the most current National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes regarding the required maintenance of these systems. According to the NFPA, appropriate qualifications require credentialling to the ASSE 6040 and ASSE 6030 requirements. Furthermore, the cost states, “Scheduled maintenance for equipment and procedures shall be established through the risk assessment of the facility and developed with consideration of the original equipment manufacturer recommendations and other recommendations as required by the authority having jurisdiction.” Healthcare facilities must test nonstationary booms and articulating assemblies for leaks every 18 months, as outlined in the manufacturer’s recommendations, or as determined following a risk assessment. The only exception involves headwalls using flexible connectors.
What are the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the maintenance of the medical gas system? Individuals responsible for the maintenance and monitoring of medical gas systems must know the equipment manufacturer recommendations regarding maintenance for all components in the system. They must check each component daily, weekly, monthly, or annually as outlined in the recommendations. The key to a successful maintenance program involves ensuring employees carry out each task, regardless of the technologies involved or how frequently the system is used. Patient care along with patient employee safety relies on the proper maintenance of the equipment, so never overlook or ignore any task.
Inspections and Testing
Who inspected and tested the system? Qualified personnel must carry out all inspections, testing, and maintenance to remain in compliance, and new installations, additions, and renovations require verification by an ASSE 6030 Verifier. These individuals undergo a training course of 32 hours or more, one conducted by an ASSE 6050 instructor, and possess a minimum of two years of documented practical experience in verifying medical gas systems. Under the code, any person taking on system maintenance must attain ASSE 6040 Maintenance Personnel qualification, 6030 qualifications, or pass an approved training program.
What monitoring system is used to manage medical gas repairs and maintenance? Is this system computerized? A computerized monitoring system oversees the entire system, from the gas source to the patient. The monitoring system includes a fully-featured software program that allows for the mapping of the entire piped gas system. In addition, the program labels the individual components with bar codes to identify and replace them when needed. Choose software that allows for preventative maintenance information access from multiple computer stations.
Oil-Free Medical Gas Equipment
Which medical gas equipment doesn’t use oil? Certain medical gas equipment requires no oil, but don’t assume this means it requires no maintenance. All life safety equipment needs regular cycling for proper operation. A failure to maintain the equipment that uses no oil leads to wear and tear on the equipment and an increased risk of failure. This holds true for equipment used daily and equipment used every hour.
Central Supply Systems
Are the central supply systems adequately monitored? Equipment used varies, depending on the gas type and institution size. Cylinder-only solutions often suffice for smaller needs, and large hospitals frequently rely on cryogenic liquid systems for piped gas. In addition, these systems need compressors to supply the medical air and vacuum pumps for suction. Improper maintenance or a failure to maintain these components, which are complex pressurized systems, becomes costly, as consumable use increases and permanent equipment sustains damage.
Talk with the medical gas equipment supplier to learn what additional steps need to be taken regarding these systems. Maintenance and timely repairs keep costs down, which is of importance in healthcare settings. Make maintenance a priority today.