Patient-Supplied Equipment

May 1, 2008 | Health System Risk Management


Ensuring the integrity of the medical devices used in a hospital is a key aspect of healthcare technology management. These devices must meet strict safety requirements and, in many cases, undergo periodic inspection to ensure continued safety.

_______________ * This article first appeared in ECRI Institute's May 2007 Health Devicesjournal. For more information, contact the communications department at _______________

This same level of oversight would ideally be applied to all equipment that is used on, by, or near the patient. However, not all such devices fit neatly in the healthcare facility’s normal realm of control. At times, patients want to use their own equipment during their stay in healthcare facilities. They may enjoy the comfort of knowing how to use and operate their own medical equipment, may wish to avoid the additional costs of using hospital-owned equipment, or both. In order to support patients’ rights while maintaining a safe environment, healthcare facilities should provide staff with guidance on accommodating patient requests for the use of patient-supplied equipment in the facility.

For the purposes of this Risk Analysis, there are two basic types of patient-supplied equipment—nonmedical and medical devices. Nonmedical devices are those that may be used for entertainment or for personal care (e.g., electronic devices, electric shavers). Medical devices are those that are part of a patient’s medical treatment or that assist with activities of daily living (e.g., ventilator, motorized wheelchair).

On one hand, it is reasonable for healthcare facilities to support patient requests to use their personally owned devices to make their stay as pleasant as possible. Yet hospitals have an obligation to maintain a safe environment. When facilities allow the use of patient-supplied equipment, they may also be assuming responsibility for that equipment’s performance and safety. This places facilities at risk because they have never had control over the equipment’s use and likely will not have evidence of its proper maintenance, repair, or storage. Healthcare facilities must determine whether such equipment can be allowed in the facility and, if so, what level of oversight is appropriate.

This Risk Analysis reviews the concerns regarding patient-supplied equipment and offers detailed guidelines for...

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