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The lifecycle of medical equipment

In this article, we discuss the four steps in the lifecycle of medical equipment: planning, set-up, use and maintenance, and disposal
The four steps of the medical equipment lifecycle: planning, set-up, use and maintenance, and disposal
© St George’s, University of London

When donating medical equipment it is important to think about the entire lifecycle of the equipment and what is needed at each stage to make sure that the equipment can be used appropriately, effectively and safely.

Think about the lifecycle of medical equipment in four main phases:

  1. Planning and assessment
  2. Set-up
  3. Use and maintenance
  4. Disposal

Planning and assessment

The planning phase is critical to the success of the donation, and should be considered as part of the lifecycle of medical equipment. Actions required during this phase include:

  • Assessing what is needed, and what is already available at the healthcare facility – considering the environment, the equipment users and the patients.

  • Budgeting for both equipment purchase and other costs across the entire lifecycle.

  • Deciding exactly what to buy, and assessing whether equipment available on the market is suitable; of good quality; and meets the needs identified.

  • For large or complex donations, drawing up tenders or donation agreements


In the set-up phase, the equipment is delivered to the healthcare facility, and installed. Staff are trained on how to use the equipment.

This can be much more complicated than it initially appears. For example, just for the delivery of the equipment, consider: how will the equipment be transported to the healthcare facility? Is the equipment insured against damage during transport and set-up? Who will be at the facility to receive the equipment and inspect it for damage? Have you agreed a space where the equipment will be stored, and do any modifications need to be made to that space (e.g. power supply, temperature control)? It is likely that the healthcare facility will have processes in place for the delivery of medical equipment, but you need to find out what these are.

Training staff on how to use the equipment may require dedicated time and space for the training sessions; educational materials; somebody who is qualified to deliver the training; as well as consideration of how to motivate staff to attend.

Use and maintenance

The use and maintenance phase of the equipment lifecycle is the time when the equipment is put to use. This includes ongoing training of healthcare staff, including new staff, on how to use the equipment, as well as monitoring of compliance with safety procedures.

However, you also need to consider what happens between uses of the equipment: cleaning and sterilisation, replacement of single-use parts, disposal of contaminated materials or used parts, and storage of the equipment.

Some equipment will need a consistent supply of electricity, water, or medical gases. Some equipment might need specific storage conditions.

If part of the equipment breaks, trained personnel will need to identify the problem, and be able to access spare parts at affordable prices.


The decommissioning and disposal phase is fairly self-explanatory.

However, consider who will decide when the equipment needs to be replaced, and whether there are any specific requirements for safe disposal of e.g. sharps, contaminated materials, or confidential data.

All of these issues may be easily surmountable; and different types of equipment will obviously have very different requirements. However it is important to map out the entire lifecycle of a piece of equipment, to ensure you are not forgetting something vital to the success of the donation.

We will work through some examples in the next step.

© St George’s, University of London
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Medical Equipment Donations to Low Resource Settings

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