Vital Signs Monitor – The Most Important Device in the Hospital

Understanding Hospital Monitors is something all medical professionals and health care providers must know. Whether it be for a stress test, planned surgery, emergency room admittance, or even the dispensing of prescription drugs, collecting the vital signs of each patient and monitoring this critical information is the most important data prior, during, and after any medical procedure.

MON-I-TOR (verb)
This device is called a monitor because the medical professional must observe, track and document a continuous record of a process, changes, or quantity, including body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate and blood pressure. Other critical statistics include gender, weight, age, and any current or previous heath conditions. The compilation of this data is what determines the bodily endurance of a patient.

Problems caused by malfunctioning monitors
Just how important a Vital Signs Monitor is can be fully realized when considering the effects from malfunction. Firstly, it is crucial to have a back up monitor in every facility to ensure the safety of patients. Monitor batteries must be regularly checked to guarantee they are operating on full power. Incorrect monitor readings could impact the amount of anesthesia a patient is given, wrong prescription potency, or any clinical decision. Failure to comply with compulsory regulations, could lead to the loss of human life. Every monitor should be sticker-ed with Your Local Medical Equipment Service Company emergency phone number.

5 Checkpoints – Vital Signs Monitor Troubleshooting
Before you call a service technician, there are 5 simple steps you can follow to find the cause of the most common problems. Troubleshooting & Understanding Hospital Monitors is necessary to know if your readings are accurate.

  • Check the Patient Cable for any visible damage, such as cracks or creases where the wires may be damaged under the protective coating. Also be sure your leads are compatible with the devise you are using.
  • Check the date on the Electrodes you are using. They have a shelf life, and very often the individual packages should be used within 7-10 days of opening. The gel has a use by date also, as it can harden.
  • Check the Blood Pressure Cuff & Hose for leakage. They are often wrapped up quickly and stuffed next to the monitor which can kink the hose causing cracks, or small tears in the cuff itself. A leaking cuff will give a false reading.
  • Check the electrode clips to be sure they are attached firmly. A loose spring action will not clamp itself tightly against the electrode.
  • Check SpO2 Sensors to be sure they are fitting the patients’ finger correctly. Too loose, or too tight will give an incorrect reading. The tip of the finger should be in contact with the Sensor. Nail polish can be an interference to a correct reading, and cold fingers may not give a reading at all.

Where are Vital Signs Monitors procured?
These devices can be purchased new for up to $10,000.00 dollars or refurbished for as low as $1,500.00. This of course depends on the size and function of the device. A refurbished monitor MUST be recertified! Whether it is under warranty or not, it is crucial that you have a Local Medical Equipment Service Company that you can depend on for quick service as you can not run a medical facility without this apparatus. Loaner monitors can be provided to keep your practice or clinic running on schedule.

How can you be sure your monitor is working up to standard?
All Vital Signs Monitors come with a handbook that will include a detailed trouble shooting guide. These step by step instructions will guide you through the process of pinpointing a particular problem. These monitors are equipped with an alarm system that will alert you should your unit fall below safe levels. This typically means one of the sensors is not getting the information it needs. This could be as simple as the patient moving and disturbing the connection, or more seriously, the monitor malfunctioning. It is important that someone in the facility is knowledgeable in using and troubleshooting the monitor as the information collected is vital to the patients’ care. Thus, the reason it is called a Vital Signs Monitor.

The maintenance of All medical equipment, including the Vital Signs Monitor is mandatory to satisfy state regulations. Your Local Medical Equipment Service Company can provide you with a maintenance schedule to be sure your equipment is in good working order. This should be done once a year, or more frequently depending on the usage of your facility