HMO Audit Finds Major Equipment Problems

Ran Reznick
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Ran Reznick

None of the diathermy units used to cut and to cauterize tissue during surgery at several major health centers are tested and maintained in accordance with the facilities' own protocols, despite the potential consequences of a malfunction in these devices.

The affected institutions are Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot and the Clalit HMO clinics in Haifa and the center of the country. Many of the diathermy devices in use at the Beilinson and Hasharon hospitals in Petah Tikva, Ha'emek in Afula, Carmel in Haifa and Meir in Kfar Sava have also not been properly tested.

In addition, many of the respiratory ventilators at Soroka are not properly maintained, and many of the devices used to sedate or ventilate patients at Kaplan, Hasharon, Ha'emek and Petah Tikva's Schneider Children's Medical Center are not being periodically tested as required.These are just a few of the findings discovered by Clalit comptroller Adi Shavit during a 2004-2005 investigation into the management of the HMO and the hospitals it operates. The report of his investigation is the first comprehensive study of its kind in Israel.

Shavit unearthed a long list of serious oversights at the HMO's eight hospitals, named above, and its clinics and medical institutes in the Central, Sharon-Samaria and Haifa-Western Galilee districts.

Spot testing of critical equipment at Schneider revealed that periodic maintenance had not been performed on four incubators for preemies, 28 respirators and 13 diathermy devices. At Carmel, maintenance checks were not carried out on 12 heart-lung machines, which are used during cardiac bypass surgery. And at Soroka, Shavit discovered that doctors were compelled to halt an operation in the middle when the optical device it required was unusable - despite the fact that it had just returned from repairs. The three other devices of that type in the hospital had been sent out for repairs after frequent malfunctions. The devices had been out of commission and waiting for repairs for up to 170 days.

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