Hazard Identification & Risk analysis concerning to Medical Equipment in Hospital

The following are few examples of adverse events I have encountered in Hospitals due to faulty medical equipment.
“The patient gets burn injury due to malfunctioning of patient plate in electrosurgical unit in operating room.”
“The medication error to patient due to non-calibrated syringe pumps in ICU”.
I am sure you too might have faced similar issues at your hospital.
The goal of this blog is to facilitate hospital team especially medical administration, Biomedical engineer (also referred as clinical engineers), clinicians, nursing & paramedical team on safe usage of medical equipment.
The ever evolving role of technology in healthcare services now allows Hospital to diagnose faster, with greater accuracy than ever before and increasingly in a manner which is least invasive. It allows Hospital to treat better and helps patients recover faster. In most of clinical areas in hospital of high risk like Operating room, Intensive care area, the processes involve usage of medical equipment. But the faulty medical equipment or use of equipment in a manner other than the equipment intended to use may lead to serious disability or death of patient. The Indian National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare providers (NABH) accreditation standard ROM 6a mandates top management of Hospital should ensure proactive risk management across the organization .As per Joint Commission International ( JCI) standard FMS 2 & NABH accreditation standard FMS 1a, the hazard identification and risk analysis (HIRA) exercise is to be conducted by hospital and should take all the necessary steps to eliminate or reduced such hazards and associated risks. It is mandatory to monitor adverse events, near misses, and sentinel events in hospital as per both NABH & JCI accreditation standard.
The failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA) is one of the tools that can be used for performing HIRA on processes involving medical equipment. The FMEA like any other process improvement methodology is a team activity wherein relevant members from different department will be involved. The goals of FMEA are as follows:
• To identify the failure modes in the process involving medical equipment
• Establish the risks and the consequences of these failure modes
• Identify and implement mitigation strategies for the effects
• Assess the success of the mitigation strategies
• Implement modifications to hospital procedures as appropriate
The roadmap for implementation of FMEA is as follows:
• Select a process or sub process involving medical equipment
• List the potential failure modes i.e. how it may fail.
• List the potential effects of the failure.
• Estimate the Severity number (S) i.e. a numerical measure as given in table 1 of how serious is the effect of the failure to the patient.
• List potential causes or mechanism of failure.
• Estimate the occurrences number (O) i.e. a numerical measure as given in table 1.It is a measure of probability that a particular failure mode will actually happen.
• Estimate the detection number ( D ) i.e. a numerical measure as given in table 1 .It is measure of probability that particular failure mode would be detected by process members.
• Compute the risk priority number ( RPN = S X O X D)
• Determining Corrective and Preventive Actions i.e. mitigation strategies for the effects including list of individual responsible for completing the action.
• Prioritizing Actions Based on the RPN.
• Recomputed RPN after corrective actions to hospital procedures as appropriate are computed.
The following FMEA case study was done on to eliminate the possible failure modes in the use of defibrillator in multispecialty Hospital in North India. Defibrillators apply an electric shock to establish a more normal cardiac rhythm in patients who are experiencing ventricular fibrillation or another shock able rhythm.The defibrillator is lifesaving equipment used in emergency situations and any failure /wrong use while applying electric shock can lead to first or second degree burns or death of the patient .
The process of using defibrillator using external paddle whenever code blue in Hospital initiated is shown below. The failure mode for each sub process is tabulated along with effect of each failure, its severity. Occurrence & detectability. The possible cause of failure & mitigating strategies is also filled. The rating for S, O & D are fixed based on detailed brainstorming session between nursing team, Clinicians, Head of Emergency Department & Clinical Engineering (also referred as Biomedical Engineering). The risk priority number for each failure is calculated to understand which sub process needs to be focused on priority.
As we can notice the following sub process needs improvements based on calculated RPN.
• Switching on defibrillator
• Positioning of paddles on patient chest & deliver shock
• Application of conductive gel on paddle
The team assigned responsibility to relevant member to work on mitigating strategy. The team decided to review the sub process again after three months based corrective action taken & revisit RPN.


There is plenty of scope for hospital to do HIRA studies on medical equipment like Ventilators, diathermy unit, syringe pump. I would encourage all my e-friends who are working on safety issues in hospital to take such activity in their hospitals. In case anyone is performing HIRA study using other tools instead of FEMA, kindly shares your methodology.


5 thoughts on “Hazard Identification & Risk analysis concerning to Medical Equipment in Hospital

  1. Pingback: Hazard Identification & Risk analysis concerning to Medical Equipment in Hospital | Medical Equipment facility planning
  2. Detailed & practical. sometime people forget the implementation part while writing but the same is very well covered by you Deepak. Thanks for sharing you knowledge

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