critical equipment

Supply and maintenance of critical equipment are the top priorities for hospitals catering towards children, to ensure top-level care to patients.

While not limited to the following, examples of critical-care equipment include life-support equipment such as ventilators, resuscitation equipment such as defibrillators, mission-critical equipment like a CT scanner, dialysis systems and sterilisers. These are vitally important to all categories of hospitals be they general and public hospitals, trauma centres, rehabilitation hospitals, children’s hospitals, geriatric hospitals, psychiatric hospitals. In addition, there are the specialised services consisting of cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, to name a few.

When you consider this need across the range of hospitals, millions of dollars are spent each year in upgrading and maintaining critical equipment.

The primary focus of Help4Kids are charity initiatives that will help support children’s hospitals as they seek to acquire the latest and best equipment to care for the most precious people in our community – sick children.

Three of the more critically needed pieces of equipment are Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) machines, portable suction units and Trilogy ventilators. All serve a specific purpose; for instance, in the case of BiPAP children with hypoventilation syndromes need specialised equipment to support breathing overnight, and for some patients throughout the day. In some cases, this is to help support the patient for some time and in other cases this is a more permanent requirement.

According to health officials, the portable Trilogy ventilator weighs less than 5kg and runs on internal and detachable batteries, providing up to six to eight hours of autonomy.  Included is an SD card that can record up to one year of data so physicians have a complete view of a child’s breathing patterns and can maintain the best therapy.

Costs of this equipment range from $14,000 for the BiPAP, $7000 for the ventilator and $2000 for the Laerdal Suction Unit. Add to this the hospital’s requirement of multiple units and the cost is astronomical, hence the regular charity drives by children’s hospitals to secure much-needed funds.

While upgrading of equipment is vital there is also the need to service and maintain the existing units. Failure to have critical equipment in the best working order will impair treatment and present dangers to our children. Critical equipment must be maintained according to the recommendations of the manufacturer.

A US report suggested that maintenance need not solely depend on whether a piece of equipment was considered critical, but on how the equipment was designed and built. Some equipment had moving and/or wearable parts that needed to be lubricated and/or replaced periodically while others were based on solid-state electronics that failed in a random manner. That meant that some critical equipment would need to be replaced quicker than others – adding to the ongoing outlay of funds by hospitals.

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