Medical equipment repairs and up-skilling Lam Dong General Hospital
Why was it initiated?
MESCH has had a long term relationship with Lam Dong General Hospital (LDGH), Dalat, Vietnam. During discussions with its director (Dr Hy) about sterilising equipment, the issue of training and servicing for biomedical technicians arose. Dr Hy felt that they were poorly trained and requested a review, with possible ongoing support from MESCH
What were its aims?
evaluate the capacity of biomedical technicians LDGH
identify the difficulties they have as a department and explore solutions
offer suggestions for ongoing support.
When did it run?
Who has been involved?
LDGH Biomedical technical department
MESCH Steve Threlfo
Other Stean Waters (Biomed technician 2011), La Vu Cuong (Biomed technician 2016)
2011 – Steve and Stean were accompanied by the 3 hospital technicians. They appeared disengaged and were not eager to learn. Although they understood many aspects of fault finding, they were hampered by limited access to operator manuals and parts. We estimated they might be able to fix <50% of all equipment. The causes of their disengagement and poor work ethic were unclear.
2016 – La Vu was invited to review the department during a visit by MESCH for another project. We spoke with the new director of the department along with all 6 biomed technicians. We also showed a Vietnamese language video made by Steve Threlfo, Cuong La Vu and Vy An on tasks performed by Steve in Australia and his perception of his job. The English version script of that video appears below.
We identified multiple issues (lack of parts, service manuals, skills, testing equipment, knowledge of testing procedures, no database to track equipment and no useful networking with other technicians). These significantly impacted negartvely on their perception of worth and mane that no preventative maintenance is performed.
The video was very well received. It is clear that the department needs to engage more with other hospital staff so as to understand the human worth of the tasks they perform. The also need to understand and be able to present financial reasons for their support by the CEO. MESCH will consider purchase/donation of other equipment based on an associated training package and a record of change occurring within the department. We spoke with the CEO about the importance of involving the technicians in purchasing decisions and changing expectations so that service manuals and basic operational tasks be given to Biomed department as part of purchase agreement. There remains very little initiative to change within the department.
Want to find out more? Please email
English version of script
Hi my name is Steve and I have made three visits to Lam Dong Hospital, Da Lat. I have worked as a Biomedical Technician in Newcastle NSW Australia for 33 years.
I trained in the Electrical Department of a Steelworks and what this taught is how to work in a team within an environment of continual change. The experience also taught me how quickly explore system function and make repairs by working from first principles.
Work from First Principles
What sustains me as a Biomedical Technician is, this is a job no one else can do. People often think we only deal with machines - but we don’t. We deal ultimately with the people at the end of those machines. What makes me proud of what I do is, knowing I have set up a system or fixed something which is going to save someone’s life.
What makes me proud as a Biomedical Technician?
We fix machines, that save lives…
As a complete contrast to working in heavy industry, Biomedical work is not about how much you do in a short time but more about attention to detail. Having hospital equipment repaired properly is more important than returning it to service quickly. Repair of modern equipment includes ensuring all connections are secure and any batteries are checked for terminal voltage and corrosion on terminals. Complicated repairs and major failures of equipment are avoided by simple checks and attending to minor problems when they first appear.
It’s not how fast you work, it either fix or harm patients. It has to be right!
Routine checks prevent major problems.
Biomedical work is also about being able to communicate with clinical staff, so you understand what they need and they feel confident to give you the information you need to help them. For me going to have a look at a problem as it is happening in a clinical area is of enormous benefit. Firstly staff will respond well as they are being taken seriously and often the problem may not be the equipment itself but how it is being used. This, at times, provides an opportunity to instruct staff on how to manage and use equipment properly, something which will save time and effort in the longer term. It also will introduce them to what you do and the important role you have in the hospital.
Biomedical work involves: support the use of equipment, building relationship/communicate with clinical staff and be an important part of the team that helps patients.
Being involved when decisions on equipment purchases are happening is very important so you can ensure all the support tools and documentation are supplied as part of the equipment delivery. It is also the only opportunity you may have to arrange training, as after equipment has been delivered, suppliers will be looking to the profit in repairs and will only see on-site Biomedical Technicians as competition.
Need service manuals and training as part of contract of sale.
Documentation of tasks you do is very important as it ensures knowledge is retained and can be shared. I am constantly working on maintenance procedures on equipment in my care and descriptions can be modified as experience improves and tasks are simplified.
Preparing reports and data entry following repairs is very important so information on what you do can be provided to management. I attend two equipment committees, one held by the Anaesthetics Department and one held by the Intensive Care Unit. I prepare reports on activity and present information relating to equipment condition and any major incidents since the previous meeting. For me this is important as a record of contributions to the operation of both departments and ultimately the patients they treat.
In conclusion, working as a Biomedical Technician has been very rewarding and when you look around, not too many jobs have as much impact on the health and safety of a large number of people.