By John Garrett
The CT is down. The techs are stressed, the imaging director is losing his mind, and the doctor is speaking to you in a language you are fairly certain is not Latin. What drives your decision on how to proceed with the repair of that CT? There are a number of immediate concerns. Is the hospital forced to redirect due to the malfunctioning unit? Is the hospital losing revenue while a patient’s waiting to be diagnosed? But, what do all the things that have to be considered actually derive from? Patient care is the answer.
Using patient care as a reason to do something has become more and more common. The ultimate reason for having the equipment is to serve patients and provide patients with care. Patient care should drive the decisions made in a hospital to ensure the best possible treatment and outcomes possible. However, using patient care as a go-to reason without serious consideration leads to a failure to achieve better outcomes and the best patient care. This is due to a narrowed focus that does not consider all of the patients, but rather a single or a few patients that are in the immediate scope of the work.
When considering the need to spend resources, man hours, overtime, paying outside service, couriering in parts or any other resource the bigger picture needs to be considered. In a hospital that has two CTs that run at 90 percent capacity the actual impact on patient care will be different than a hospital that has 18 CTs that run at an average of 65 percent capacity. The hospital with the greater number of CTs might find it inconvenient to wait until first delivery the next day where the hospital with only two CTs might be forced to turn patients away. The need for a resolution to the problem for the smaller hospital justifies the expenditure of more resources than the larger hospital in the same situation.
Ensuring the proper expenditure of those resources is directly related to patient care. Spending the resources necessary without wasting them is a fine line that requires a delicate balance. This line is often blurred by the heat of the moment, emotions and political positioning. By not wasting resources, the focus is on patient care for the long term. It ensures that the patients of the future get the best care on a continuous basis. It is the same reason that it makes sense to research parts and ensure that quality parts are purchased at the best price. By making the medical facility financially viable, it ensures that future patients can be treated.
Make no mistake, repairing diagnostic imaging equipment improves the quality of life of many and saves lives. It is important work. Ensuring that it is done in the most economical way, while meeting the needs of those who are served is very important. Just make sure that in the fog of battling with a challenging repair that the real reason the work is being done is not lost. The patients of both today and tomorrow are counting on a responsible response to the problem.
John Garrett has 20 years experience in imaging service including general radiation, mammography, CT and nuclear medicine. He has worked for third-party service companies, manufacturers, sales companies and in-house imaging teams.