The Other Side: Taking Time to Care

One would think that all people working in health care are compassionate and caring, and I see examples of this every day, a stranger helping a stranger in a time of need or crisis.

However, I also see health care workers who seem to not care very much at all. I believe people become numb because they encounter the same problems on a daily basis. When this happens it is easy to become indifferent and forget that each new patient may be experiencing the treatment for the first time. I think this happens to the biomedical technician too, and if we are not careful, we could be jeopardizing our own existence.

I am dismayed every time I hear words like, “they need to learn how to take care of their equipment better” and “that’s not my job.” As of late, I feel like I am hearing this more frequently from my colleagues in the industry. I really do not understand the angst; technicians should realize that if our customers knew everything about their equipment they would not need us. I especially like it when I hear techs complain about that “stupid five-minute fix.” I say, “You should be thankful, you scored an easy win.” Without the occurrence of problems, we have nothing to fix.

It is no secret that equipment continues to become more reliable, so what is there going to be left for us to do? Frankly, I do not need a degreed technician to do safety checks on equipment. Our paradigms about service need to start changing, or I fear that soon there will be no need for the biomedical technician. I have been monitoring equipment failures for many years, my experience has been that the majority of failures are caused by physical damage and accessories deterioration. Granted, theses failures lack the ability to test our technical abilities but to the users they are the same as any other problem. Therefore, we need to take them seriously and fix the problem or the user in a kind and caring way. We need to remember that the users are trying to utilize the equipment on a patient. I am not stating that the user does not have ownership in the problem, my point is if we aren’t kind and thoughtful we may not find out what the real problem is with the equipment. I think it is safe to assume the user of the equipment doesn’t start their day thinking about how they can break the equipment they need to do their job. By being empathetic we are likely to discover the situation that is contributing to the failure, it may be environmental or educational.

In conclusion, we must never forget where we work; we are health care professionals who have the opportunity to impact a stranger’s life in a positive way. When we feel frustrated because the user physically broke the equipment or can’t find the “pulse ox thing” we should remember they were trying to use it on a patient and now the treatment or diagnosis is delayed. If we rightfully assume the user did not break the equipment on purpose, we can open our minds to find the root cause of the problem. We must always connect the dots between nurse and patient so we can understand how our actions impact others. As equipment becomes cheaper and more reliable, our troubleshooting efforts will need to change from equipment-related problems to environmental and situational problems. The only way we can get the information to solve these problems is to be caring and compassionate to the users so they feel comfortable giving us the information.


JIM FEDELE, CBET, has been with Medical Dealer magazine for more than 12 years. He is currently the director of clinical engineering for Susquehanna Health Systems in Williamsport, Pa. He can be reached for questions and/or comments by email at info@mdpublishing.com.