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An Overview Of Hospital Equipment & Supplies
By Themedica on September 8, 2008 12:46 PM |
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Hospital equipment and supplies refer to all devices and machinery designed to aid in the diagnosis, monitoring or treatment of medical conditions. The design and manufacture entails compliance with rigorous safety standards.

There are scores of medical equipments and supplies and are classified under different heads. The following categories are a basic classification for hospital equipments and supplies.

hospital-equipment.jpg Diagnostic Equipment: This category includes all devices and supplies that assist in the diagnosis of abnormal medical conditions. For instance ultrasound and MRI machines, PET and CT scanners and x-ray machines all qualify as diagnostic equipment.

Therapeutic Equipment: Equipments belonging to this category are used for treating patients and include medical lasers, infusion pumps and LASIK surgical machines, etc.

Life support equipment: Mostly used during surgery or when a patient's condition is considered serious, these equipments help maintain a patient's bodily functions. Common examples include heart-lung machines, medical ventilators dialysis machines, ECMO, etc.

Hospital Monitoring Equipment: This set of equipment allows medical staff to keep a tab on a patient's medical condition. Monitoring equipment are often used to meassure a patient's vital signs viz. ECG, EEG, blood pressure, etc.

Hospital laboratory equipment: Most medical diagnoses today rely upon the use of samples of blood, urine, tissue, etc. collected from patients and then are subjected to bio-chemical analysis. Laboratory equipment aids these processs and sometimes automoates them to varying degrees.

Types of Hospital Equipment & Supplies

Though there are numerous items covered under the head Hospital Equipment & Supplies, some common ones are described below.

Autoclave
autoclave.jpg
Charles Chamberland is the person accredited with the invention of autoclave in 1879. The name is used to refer to an industrial machine which makes use of high temperature and pressure for processing (sterlizating) materials. In the case of its medical application, these devices achieve sterlization by means of creating a high temperature and high pressure conditions within, to heat aqueous solutions above their boiling point. Consequently, all bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores are rendered futile. Aside from hospital use, autoclaves have applications in sterilizing instruments for microbiology, body piercing, dentistry, metallurgy, veterinary science and podiatry.

Medical Refrigerator
medical-refrigerator.jpg
A refrigerator is a cooling equipment which comprises a thermally insulated space inside it and is coupled with a mechanism to transfer heat away from it to the external environment, thereby cooling the contents within. Refrigerators are used in hospitals to prevent medicines and other vulnerable supplies from spoilage caused by bacterial growth and other processes that occur faster at higher temperatures.

Suction Unit

A suction unit for medical applications refers to a special system comprising a pump for sucking off secretions. It comprises a collecting reservoir for material to be sucked off and deposited in. These units also house valve blocks to achieve an alternating connection of a pump chamber through corresponding valves to produce of a vacuum in the pump chamber.
hospital-rubber-goods.jpg
Hospital Rubber Products

Hospital rubber goods or medical rubber goods refer to all the equipment and supplies such as medical gloves, surgical rubber goods, bed sheets made out of rubber and meant for use in different medical processes.

Hospital Consumables

Hospital consumables are products and materials that get used up in the process of carrying out medical activities. These consumables need to be replaced and replenished frequently. Common items belonging to this category entail antiseptics, bandages, cleaning supplies, medical tape, sanitary products, surgical blades, etc.

Hospital Hollowware
hospital-hollowware.jpg
Holloware for medical purposes refers to different kinds of hollow vessels used for holding the by products of medical processes, medical waste, etc. Common examples include baby trays, bedpans, catheter trays, douche cans, dressing drums, hospital basins, etc.

Buying Tips

The quality of hospital equipment and supplies determines how effective and safe these products are and this in turn affects the quality of medical service rendered by a hospital. For example a faulty suction unit can almost wreck a surgery. The importance of the quality hospital equipment and supplies can’t be overstated. The following tips would help you to procure quality medical equipment and supplies.

1.Establish the integrity of the source prior placing the order.

2.Establish a list of approved suppliers.

3.Require that any alternative source of supply provides the following as a minimum:

a.A pedigree back to the previous source.

b.Certification that it is not a diverted product.

c.Certification that any actions by the alternative source will not alter any original manufacture warranties or guarantees.

d.Certification that the product has been stored and handled consistent with product labeling requirements.

4.Be wary if a product is being offered at an unusually cheap price.

5.Check for signs of a removed or switched product label.

6.Check for subtle changes in the product’s package (compare with previously purchased products), notwithstanding legitimate parallel imported products

7.Look for variations in the size of the container (compare with previously purchased products), notwithstanding legitimate parallel imported products.

8.Look for differences in container length, diameters and shapes.

9.Examine for variations in the thickness of containers and for variations in container color tints.

10.Compare the physical characteristics of the product

Industry Overview

The medical equipment and supplies industry is a large, competitive and strong sector of the health care industry. Back in 2002 itself the global market was valued at about US$ 180 billion. The medical equipment subsector of the industry comprises technologically sophisticated products for use mostly by small populations. Examples of these products include implantable defibrillators, CAT scanners, MRI equipment, orthopedic devices. While these products are mostly priced higher for smaller volumes, they face the risk of competition and technological innovation.

On the other hand the hospital supplies market is dependent on larger volumes but lower margins. Further, two trends that have unfolded over the years include mergers and acquisitions of smaller companies by industry giants. Another pertains to the growng need for automation of many medical process, such as seen in the increasing demand for patient monitoring systems.

The industry's growth in future will be fueled by growing requirements of aging population with increasing life expectancies, consumers demanding quality health care and ever growing investments in R&D. By the year 2006, the global industry was worth US $196.65 billion. While the industry as a whole is to grow at a decent rate, some subsectors like those of implantable defibrillator, diabetes, cardiology,  pain management, orthopedics and oncology are expected to supercede others in terms of revenues. The leading sectors are expected to register revenues ranging from 10% to 13%.

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