Managing and keeping track of a large fleet of mobile medical devices across three major acute hospital sites can be a serious challenge. That’s why East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) has implemented Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking of medical assets to support their three medical equipment libraries. Tracking 5,000 medical devices including 1,000 beds with RFID has considerably reduced the time spent by clinical and engineering staff looking for devices, improved utilisation levels of equipment, increased patient safety and helped drive down the need for ad-hoc device hires.

Before the introduction of RFiD Discovery, infusion pumps were regularly in short supply and staff were frequently requesting more pumps to be purchased. Andy Barrow, EME Services Manager at EKHUFT comments:

The device management data from the RFID system highlighted an excess of 98 infusion pumps, costing at total of around £150,000. These have now temporarily been removed from circulation and will be available to meet our growing demand. This means the Trust will not need to purchase infusion pumps for a considerable amount of time.

With the introduction of RFID, the management of hired devices has also improved. Tagging dynamic mattresses has helped greatly to identify hired ones among those owned by the Trust. The mattresses all look very similar, so hired ones were often used without staff realising they are using a hired device instead of one owned by the Trust. When it was time to return a hired mattress someone had to physically check the serial number of each one, which was intrusive for patients and time consuming for staff. Andy Barrow comments:

Now we can identify hired mattresses quickly with a simple RFID scan without disturbing patients. It’s also saving a huge amount of time and has delivered significant savings by avoiding late return fines and unnecessary rental charges.

From a clinical point of view, one of the most important improvements is the time saving for nursing staff. Dr. Tony Beaumont, Anaesthetic Consultant and Head of the Medical Devices Group at EKHUFT explains:

Ward staff now spend less time finding equipment and more time actually using it for patient care. The nursing teams have great faith in the libraries and their use has been one of the success stories of our medical equipment management.

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