Asked and Answered: Who's Responsible for Beds?

February 1, 2020

Categories: AAMI News, Health Technology Management, HTM Professionals

This regular feature showcases questions and answers from professionals participating in AAMI’s online discussion groups, collectively known as AAMI Connect. AAMI does not endorse specific practices or advice. Participants in these forums are sharing their own experiences and insights.

Q: What department at your hospital is responsible for servicing beds and moving beds in and out of patient rooms? Is this responsibility being performed under the clinical engineering department?

A: We have 608 hospital beds in our district hospital. My biomedical team doesn’t move the beds, but it does service all the beds, stretchers, and surgical tables. I have two technicians who are well educated on the maintenance of all the different makes and models at our institution. Our hospital uses the transport and environmental services staff to move bed resources where they are needed.

Unless your clinical engineering department is staffed around the clock every day, I would not recommend that your department provide bed transportation.

—Paul Gatley, director of clinical engineering at Kaweah Delta Health Care District in Visalia, CA

A: At our hospital, the beds are moved by transporters and patient care assistants. The key to success for our location is having a “bed stockroom” for these folks to pull beds from. My team maintains this bed stock. As long as the room is well stocked with beds, the process flows rather well.

—Jeffrey Ruiz, technology manager, biomedical engineering at Holland Hospital in Holland, MI

A: I asked this same question, and it appeared to be about a 50/50 split between the biomedical and facilities departments handling hospital bed repairs and tracking the beds across the country.

At our institution, facilities maintenance staff take care of the hospital beds. They have two or three maintenance personnel that have been specifically trained to work with the Stryker beds we have.

However, if you are talking about validating the sterilization processes used at your facility, the answer is “maybe.” This type of testing in the U.S. is commonly called “product quality assurance testing,” and it is a type of process validation. You can either work with a consultant or perform the testing yourself. Some guidance on performing this testing is provided in ANSI/AAMI ST79, Comprehensive guide to steam sterilization and sterility assurance in health care facilities.

—Joseph Deater, healthcare technology management at Munson Healthcare in Traverse City, MI

A: Our dispatch and materials department takes care of moving hospital beds to patient rooms when one is needed—even if it’s a broken bed that needs to be replaced. The broken bed is red tagged, ticketed, and taken to a central location for a biomedical engineer to repair. The dispatch and materials department is not part of the clinical engineering department.

Gerald McNeil, clinical engineering operational manager at Northern Light Health in Bangor, ME

A: We have a small department, and managing hospital beds has been an issue for us. We passed the transport task on to the nursing department and the environmental services staff. Now, we are only responsible for bed repair. Our transportation department was not rolled into this process.

—Charles Fields, manager, biomedical engineering at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC

A: Our clinical engineering team is responsible for hospital bed maintenance. We took over from our facilities team about four years ago due to some ongoing issues. We do not move beds around the facility, though. This is done by our materials management team. When a hospital bed needs to be serviced, it is tagged by clinical staff and they notify their materials handler. A replacement bed is delivered, and the tagged bed is brought to a designated location for the BMET team to repair. Our beds are all tagged with real-time location services and the materials and environmental services teams help us a great deal with getting them swapped out at preventive maintenance time as well.

—Richard Boudreau, clinical engineering director at Maine General Medical Center in Augusta, ME

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