By: Frank Magnarelli
When I was a teenager, I went to technical school to learn radio and television repair. We had a very demanding shop instructor who always inspected our repairs for quality and workmanship. He would carefully check each solder joint for cleanliness and integrity. He insisted that we replace any nicked, damaged or burned wires. Along with the usual tools, our workbench had an array of cleaning solutions, polishes, and brushes because he required that we clean and polish every cabinet until it looked like new. He held us to one standard; before we returned it to the customer, every device should look like it did the day it left the factory. I still can remember the smiles on our customer’s faces when they saw that their radio or television not only was working again, but it looked far better than when they brought it in.
At the time, I did not realize the important lessons he was teaching us. He taught us always to work to the best of our abilities. More importantly, he taught us to take pride in every aspect of our work. We learned how important it was to take extra steps to respect and satisfy our customers even though they might not recognize a good solder joint or quality workmanship. He taught us that it was always important to exceed our customer’s expectations.
Those lessons that I learned as a teenager are still valid today. In fact, in our profession they are even more important because poor quality and workmanship might directly affect patient care. Despite the importance of quality in our profession, there are still many departments operating without written workmanship standards. Every department is required to have carefully written testing and performance standards for each device in their inventory. We would not tolerate technicians who ignored procedures and tested each piece of equipment the way they felt was best. Can you imagine the look on a Joint Commission Surveyor’s face if you told them that you did not have any testing procedures? It seems strange to me that we require testing according to written standards, but we do not require written workmanship standards.
If you are one of those departments that presently operates without quality and workmanship standards, I recommend that you begin writing them as soon as possible. The doctors, nurses, and most importantly, the patients who rely on the equipment that you maintain always deserve your very best work.
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About The Author:
Frank Magnarelli has broad experience developing and managing cost-effective, customer-focused clinical engineering departments in single and multi-hospital settings in the U.S. and in the Middle East. He is a proven innovator with expertise in program development, planning, teaching, organizing, problem solving and motivating staff through empowerment. Magnarelli founded the clinical engineering department at Miami Children’s Hospital in 1990 and served as its director until his retirement in 2006. There, he led a team of managers in establishing an asset management program that reduced hospital-wide maintenance costs by $700,000 every year. He is active in AAMI and the South Florida Association for Biomedical Instrumentation, serves on the advisory board for Keiser College and is a co-founder of the Florida Biomedical Society.