Keeping our medical devices records up-to-date

Heather Meek medical devices project

Making sure all medical equipment is safe to use and that records are accurate and up-to-date is at the heart of one of the trust’s improvement projects.

Two years ago Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) discovered there was a discrepancy when it came to medical devices which were out-of-date or needed servicing. In November 2017, the register showed that 176 high risk items needed attention. However, experience on the ground tended to show that devices had been serviced.

It was discovered that this information had simply not been updated on the system. Due to time pressures colleagues were struggling to keep the digital records up-to-date – and so a project was set up to address the issue.

Medical Devices Assurance Managers Rebecca Vicary and Heather Meek have worked on the project, using quality improvement tried and tested methodology.

Heather said: “We set up a statistical process control (SPC) chart to keep an eye on the figures to see how many devices were out of date each month. Also, each quarter, we do a run chart to keep track of where we are and to make sure we are meeting our key performance indicators (KPIs).

“What was on our system was not up-to-date, but this is what gives us our assurance.”

There are around 12,000 medical devices used by the trust, which range from electronic beds on wards in community hospitals to hoists, suction machines, syringe drivers and thermometers.

All health trusts have to meet strict NHS compliance rates regarding dates on medical devices. This is to ensure equipment is safe to use. The team found that a full-time Clinical Governance Administrator was needed, to make sure records are always accurate.

Heather said: “We knew on the ground that the equipment was safe but we had to keep the digital records updated too.

“In 2017, we had 176 devices overdue on the system – we now run at about six, but all are noted on the records as being in progress to be updated and are out of action until they are fixed or replaced.

“There was never a risk to patients; this was about admin and processes.

“We now have a very strong grip on what devices are where and their safety status and we can now run an accurate audit at a moment’s notice.”

There is more information about the project, including the tools Heather and Rebecca used, on their project on a page.