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Miguel Machuca

Safety and quality - no matter your size

An editorial by Miguel Machuca

The call may come any at hour. The MR system is not functioning properly. Or, there is an issue with the mobile X-ray. Not only is the equipment down, but patient care is being delayed as a result.

As an independent medical imaging equipment servicer, our job is to ensure we repair these complex devices safely and effectively so that patients and their doctors can depend on them. Unfortunately, service from “third party” companies like ours is not always associated with high quality. However, even as a very small company, we have found that making a significant investment in service training, tools and quality control methods is good for people and for our business.

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First – it’s good for people. Doctors and their patients rely on these medical devices to provide them a clear, accurate image to aid in diagnosis and treatment. If a medical imaging device has been serviced improperly, care could be delayed, a diagnosis could be missed, or a patient could even be injured.

For us, patient safety is always top of mind. This is why we work closely with the original equipment manufacturers, or OEMS, who provide training for our employees before they work on any device we offer for sale or service. These trainings ensure that every field service engineer understands and complies with the applicable Food and Drug Administration and state health department regulations.

We have also adopted a number of quality management processes from ISO 13485 and the proposed MITA service standard, including robust training, thorough documentation, and stringent verification and validation controls. This also helps improve safety of our employees. By working with OEMs to put these systems in place, we are protecting the people who rely on this life-saving technology and ensuring optimum device performance.

Secondly – it’s good for our business. Due to the resources required, this may sound counterintuitive. Yet we have found that adhering to quality control methods ultimately helps our operation by eliminating costly errors and making our business more profitable. Additionally, delivering first-class service by “doing it right the first time” with properly sourced parts and fully trained field service engineers also lowers equipment downtime, which leads to happier clients who are more likely to work with us in the future.

That said, there is no doubt that investing in servicing tools, trainings, and quality control measures comes at a cost to our bottom line. After all, we are a small business with only 15 employees. But I firmly believe that the cost of doing nothing is much higher, considering what is at stake. Patient lives depend on the integrity of the medical imaging devices we service. Taking a proactive approach to service quality and safety is an investment worth making, no matter your company size.

About the author: Miguel Machuca is executive vice president at Medical Outfitters Inc., an independent source for diagnostic imaging equipment service, and an associate member of MITA.

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