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Rise in equipment spend amid safety concerns

However, there are serious concerns about outdated critical medical equipment in clinical use in HSE hospitals, which is exposing patients to risks.

Some €41 million was spent on the replacement of medical equipment in 2017, compared to €26 million in 2016 and €22 million in 2015.

There are 822 x-ray machines listed in the HSE database and more than half (489) are 10 years old or more. Of the 28 MRI machines, 13 are 10 years old or greater and of the 663 ultrasound machines, there are 324 that are at least a decade old. The HSE has 58 CT machines in acute hospitals, but 27 are more than 10 years old.

Overall, there are more than 21,000 pieces of critical medical equipment located within HSE acute hospitals. Of these, 11,484 medical devices are over 10 years old, while 1,676 medical devices are more than two decades old.

Furthermore, “two serious reportable events were reported in 2017 relating to product/device categories. The outcome was that one incident was found not be due to ‘faulty’ medical equipment and the other is pending the outcome of ongoing investigation,” a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).

According to COCIR, the European trade association representing the medical imaging, radiotherapy, health ICT and electromedical industries, no more than 10 per cent of medical imaging equipment should be over 10 years old.

In a 2016 report, the association said that austerity measures imposed on healthcare systems “mean that the installed base of medical imaging equipment in Europe is older than ever before. The continued use of this equipment is exposing patients to unnecessary risk.”

Equipment replacement is reviewed by the HSE on an ongoing basis but also strategically every year by hospitals, in conjunction with clinical staffing, according to the HSE.  

“A multi-year rolling replacement programme is formulated in order to plan equipment replacements over a period of three years. This multi-year replacement programme is refreshed each subsequent year in order to continually align the programme to the replacement priorities of the service.”

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