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Model answers for the lifecycle of an ECG machine and suture kit

Describe the 'life cycle' of two pieces of medical equipment: model answers
image of an old ECG machine reading 134
© St George’s, University of London

Although there is no one ‘right’ answer, here are some examples of issues you might want to consider.

ECG Machine

Planning: Are there already any ECG machines available in the hospital, and in which areas they are most used? Find out if (and how many) healthcare staff trained to a) perform and b) read ECGs. Is there a line in the hospital budget for purchase of consumables (e.g. paper, ink) and spare parts? Decide which ECG machine to buy, from which manufacturer, and with which settings and additional features (e.g. some machines have in-built interpretation functions). Would a cardiac monitor be more useful?

Set-up: Arrange for delivery of the machine. Is there a secure place for the machine to be stored, and a convenient place for the machine to be used? Depending on the machine, it may need a continuous electricity supply, or it may have a battery function. How will training be arranged for healthcare staff on how to perform and read ECGs – and which grades of staff will receive which type of training?

Use and maintenance: Where will single-use parts (e.g. paper, ECG electrodes) be stored, and who will replace them? Is there a budget line for purchase of new parts? Is a consistent electricity supply available? Does the machine come with a manual? Are spare parts available in-country at affordable prices? Are there technicians in the hospital who will be able to repair the machine if it breaks?

Disposal: How is electrical equipment disposed of? Where will the paper ECGs be stored?

Suture kit

Planning: Likely to be minimal for such a simple piece of equipment, however you might want to consider how many kits are already available, and how many times a day the facility receives a patient who needs sutures.

Set-up: Arranging delivery of the equipment, and an agreed place of storage.

Use and maintenance: Who will replace the sutures, and who will pay for new sutures? Are dressing packs, sterile gloves and local anaesthetic easily available? If the instruments are reusable: how will they be cleaned and appropriately sterilised?

Disposal: What are the facilities and policies for disposing of sharps?

These are examples of fairly simple equipment. If you want to read a more in-depth discussion of the life cycle of complex medical equipment, THET has produced a useful leaflet which can be found in the related links below.

Talking point:

Did you miss anything in your answers, or disagree with anything included above? Was there anything in the answers above that surprised you? Use the comments section to explain your answers to these questions and feel free to comment on each others comments or like them.

© St George’s, University of London
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