Insider Tips for Troubleshooting Telemetry Equipment


Telemetry systems are vital for real-time monitoring and transmission of critical medical data. They utilize sensors and wireless technology to collect and send data on vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, activity levels, and ECG information. These systems empower healthcare providers to remotely monitor patients, respond swiftly to changes, and offer timely interventions. Telemetry is especially valuable in critical care, post-surgery recovery, and managing chronic conditions, significantly improving patient care and safety.

For busy biomedical equipment technicians, troubleshooting a telemetry unit is an art as much as it is a diagnostic process. Biomed techs have a gift for technology that helps them sniff out the cause of device failure in even the trickiest of situations.

When troubleshooting, newer biomed techs should frequently refer to the OEM preventive maintenance (PM) procedure to gain familiarity with different systems. Seasoned biomed techs bring their expertise with different PMs and equipment when diagnosing telemetry system failure.

However, biomed techs of all levels can hit a frustrating wall now and then when trying to keep telemetry devices on the floor. Medical equipment repair companies work on the same telemetry box models hundreds of times and have diagnostic capabilities that go beyond many biomedical departments. The following patient monitor repair tips based on 3rd-party biomedical repair expertise can help hospital techs avoid some of the troubleshooting hassles and headaches.

SEE ALSO: How Cardiac Telemetry Helps Patients and Healthcare Workers

Cleaning fluid damage

The biggest battles biomed techs may face are caused by equipment cleaning issues. The OEM manual recommends specific cleaning products and procedures for each unit. However, state and facility requirements based on CDC recommendations for equipment sterilization will always take priority, even when they contradict OEM guidelines. In some cases, extra cleanings using products from the EPA’s List N COVID Disinfectants have intensified this challenge.

Caking or corrosion caused by harsh chemicals in cleaning products cause issues such as lead interface failure, battery insertion problems, door malfunctions, and cracks in the transmitter case. Damage may worsen because of improper execution of cleaning protocols while clinicians focus on providing time-sensitive patient care. Nurses and other clinicians may rush procedures or skip essential steps, such as air drying after disinfection.

These suggestions may help biomed techs reduce device downtime due to cleaning-related failures:

  • Identify any gaps in staff responsibilities resulting in specific components going uncleaned
  • When retraining clinical staff, emphasize that cleaning comes before disinfection
  • Brainstorm with clinicians to develop strategies for cleaning under time constraints
  • Select an approved, single-action product rather than multi-use formula

Biomed techs often use temporary solutions, such as soaking parts in alcohol or lubricating moving components. But when the same problem occurs repeatedly, these time-consuming fixes potentially compromise patient safety – and the affected components will still ultimately have to be replaced. Working with an experienced 3rd party telemetry repair partner that sells high-quality parts offers a long-term solution that saves time and money.

Procedural causes of telemetry device failure

Data collection failures may occur due to incorrect floor procedures. Improper skin preparation can cause false telemetry alarms. Yanking out leads or pushing too hard when plugging them in, being heavy-handed during battery insertion, and other handling issues can damage delicate device components. Sometimes the habits of a single nurse are the mystery behind multiple service tickets for the same device, room, or floor.

Systematic data errors that can’t be traced to the server or network cable may also result from incorrect admittance procedures. This may include wrong serial numbers, incomplete fields in patient TTX registration, or skipped protocol steps.

When telemetry testing doesn’t provide answers, these steps can help rule out procedural factors when the same unit from the same floor or room consistently malfunctions:

  • Talk to nurses and ask follow up questions
  • Review TTX registration process
  • Encourage nurses to slow down when entering TTX info
  • Retrain all clinicians in equipment handling and care
  • In-room video recording to determine if a single clinician is responsible

If a procedural cause has been ruled out, then it’s time to call for backup. Call IS or OEM tech support for systemic issues. Call your 3rd-party repair partner for telemetry box failures.\

Intermittent issues

Malfunctions that continue to occur under seemingly random circumstances are some of the most aggravating telemetry issues. Remember the golden rule of biomedical device repair: when in doubt, switch it out.

“Don’t be a superhero,” says Alero Olomajeye, a level III biomedical engineering technician at Elite Biomedical Solutions. “Whenever you see something weird, and you’ve gone through the PM and it still happens, change the unit out, then call tech support or a repair company because they’ve probably seen more than you and know what to do.”

The benefits of a 3rd-party repair ally

Calling a trusted 3rd-party telemetry repair partner first for device failure means you have an ally with a broad range of troubleshooting experience. Biomedical equipment repair companies can fix or replace almost anything, and they may have hard-to-find software some systems require for issues like TTX remapping.

Third-party repair companies offer faster repair and sell a broad range of telemetry device parts at lower prices than the OEM, including processor boards, doors, cases, and other components. They often carry replacement parts OEMs can’t or won’t sell, such as IPX7-rated items in GE telemetry monitors (Apex Pro CH Case Assembly, Apex Pro FH Type 1 Case Assembly, Apex Pro/Pro CH Connector Interface) or Philips telemetry components like the Philips MX40 Battery Door Cover.

Made in the USA, Elite Biomedical Solutions manufactures parts under strict quality control that meets or exceeds OEM regulations. The resins in Elite’s housing parts are tested to ensure they withstand cleaning chemicals as well as or better than the OEM resin. Elite also tests IP rated replacement parts to confirm they meet IEC waterproofing requirements.

For expert help with troubleshooting and fast repair with OEM+ quality replacement parts, call or email Elite Biomedical Solutions today.

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