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Surgical Instrument Surgeons

Fri, 06/10/2005 - 10:35am

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There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “To do good work, one must first have good tools.” Naturally, as is the intent of a proverb, there is a deeper meaning to the words than simply the surface text, and the Confucian implications of the statement could well be debated ad nauseam in college dormitories around the globe. For the workers of the world though, those few simple words are more a commonsense platitude than an inspired divination.

From carpenters to accountants, plumbers to preachers, the right tools are essential to getting any given job done efficiently and effectively. The modern surgeon is no exception to the rule. While it may be possible to perform an emergency appendectomy with little more than a steak knife, a skein of yarn, and some duct tape, it is safe to say that the operation will not be all that efficient, and only debatably effective.

Teleflex Medical’s repair technicians provide superior craftsmanship and keen attention to detail.
Medical advancements of the Twentieth Century and dawn of the Twenty-First, have greatly enlarged and expanded the surgeon's tool arsenal. Surgical instrumentation, diagnostic equipment, imaging systems, and a vast array of other OR tools have changed the way modern surgery is performed, and have provided numerous benefits to both the surgeons and patients alike. Precision surgical equipment can streamline procedures, improve surgeon visibility and access, and improve patient outcome.

Unfortunately, precision equipment can come at a hefty price. The tools required to meet the stringent requirements of advancing medical technology often incorporate their own cutting-edge technologies; and the development and manufacturing of those technologies can be a costly endeavor. For medical facilities committed to keeping up with developing technologies, buying the latest surgical instruments and equipment is an investment, and protecting that investment is a high priority.

As with any tool, surgical instruments and medical systems are subject to wear and tear, and the more delicate a precision piece of equipment is, the more damage it may sustain throughout the course of normal use. Naturally, the constant replacement of aging and overused equipment would be budgetary disaster. A much more reasonable approach to maintaining instrument and equipment quality, and protecting a facility’s investment, is to have deteriorating equipment repaired.

Five Star Surgical services a variety of surgical instruments and returns them in “like-new” condition.
Fortunately, a number of medical device manufacturers are well equipped and more than happy to maintain and repair their own products. Another option though, is use of an independent or third party repair company. These companies specialize in the repair and refurbishment of a broad range of surgical instruments and medical equipment, often from any and all manufacturers. They can provide a one-stop option for instrument repair, and many of them offer both in-house and mail-in repair service. And, there are a number of repair companies to choose from.

North Carolina-based Teleflex Medical offers its customers a full comprehensive instrumentation management solution that goes above and beyond just instrument repair. In addition to wide spectrum surgical instrumentation and equipment repair, and scheduled maintenance and repair/replacement programs, Teleflex provides a state-of-the-art IT solution designed to manage the instrument repair process, tracking and reporting.

The repair services offered by Teleflex can be customized to accommodate any facility. “In our case no repair is too big or too small. Whether you’re a huge hospital or a small outpatient clinic, all surgical instruments you need to have repaired will be repaired fast and to the highest quality standards,” say Ivars Ivanov, Product Manager, Instrumentation at Teleflex Medical.

They can repair all brands and models of general and other specialty reusable stainless steel surgical instruments, pneumatic and electric power tools and accessories, rigid and flexible endoscopes, video cameras and accessories, light sources and fiber optic instruments, and much more. A majority of these repairs are done within 48 hours for factory-based mail-in repairs, but Teleflex also offers a van-based repair service and their innovative InSite repair service.

Spectrum’s German-trained technicians are able to perform general and advanced repairs on location.
The InSite repair service is a relatively new development in the surgical instrument repair business and provides a cost-effective and extremely convenient alternative to established repair solutions to larger facilities. The basic premise of an InSite repair program is the installation of a fully equipped repair laboratory on hospital premises, staffed with one of Teleflex’s highly trained, certified repair technicians on a full-time basis. So, instead of packing and shipping damaged instruments each time they require repair, they can simply be taken to the on-site repair facility within the hospital. The turn-around time on repair is reduced from a few days to a few hours (or even minutes), shipping cost is no longer a factor, and the weekly reporting and billing cycle takes a lot of the frustration and paperwork out of the equation.

With so many options opened, Teleflex Medical can work with facilities to develop a repair program that meets their individual needs. Ivanov gives this advice to hospitals or medical centers in the market for an instrument repair vendor. “Do your homework. To us an educated customer is the best customer. Consider the provider's capabilities: is it the quality, turn-around time, cost, accurate and detailed reporting, ability to repair most/all instruments in one place, minimizing the number of “un-repairable” instruments, customer service, accountability, etc. Once you have that list in order of priorities, you can start shopping for the vendor that’s going to meet the criteria you set forth.

Another independent repair company, Mobile Instrument Service & Repair, Inc. located in Bellefontaine, Ohio, is able to repair, refurbish, sharpen and perform preventive maintenance on all manufacturers’ stainless steel and minimally invasive surgical instruments, both onsite and at its national repair center. The company also repairs sterilization containers, rigid scopes, flexible scopes, power equipment, video equipment and diamond knives, and boasts an inventory of over $3 million in new parts for the various manufacturers. Turnaround time is same-day for all onsite repairs performed at the facility and one to four days for instruments repaired at the national repair center, depending on the severity of the problem encountered.

Mobile Instrument Service & Repair, Inc. services all manufacturers’ surgical instruments.
Mobile Instrument Service has a number of standards and checks in place to assure the highest quality repairs. First, they use only new parts that meet or exceed the industry standards in every repair. Then, once work is done on an instrument, all repairs go through several quality control checks performed by the company’s QC inspectors before the instruments are approved for return to the customer. Finally, any work performed is guaranteed to meet the customer’s satisfaction, and is backed by extensive repair warranties.

In addition, should a facility require a back-up instrument to replace one being repaired, Mobile Instrument offers a generous selection of loaner equipment. Beverly Young, Marketing Manager for Mobile Instrument Service & Repair, Inc., explains, “We offer an extensive loaner inventory to our customers at no charge. Currently, we have over 500 rigid scopes, over 200 flexible scopes, over 1,000 pneumatic and electric power units, and over 125 video cameras in our loaner pool. We carry all makes and models for various manufacturers, and our loaner inventory is continually being upgraded and expanded to meet our customers’ needs.”

Surgical Repair Technologies is a state-of-the-art, FDA-registered complete repair facility located in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and specializes in the repair of all makes and models of flexible and rigid endoscopes, orthopedic power equipment, Phaco emulsification instruments, and all instrumentation commonly used in modern surgical procedures.

In addition to the extensive range of their repair capabilities, Surgical Repair Technologies’ repair technicians bring an extra degree of expertise to the repair process. “Surgical Repair Technologies is a division of Sohniks Endoscopy, an OEM of flexible and rigid endoscopes. Our experienced technicians that repair all the instruments are also part of the manufacturing process. We also have many contacts among other manufacturers, and technology and manufacturing processes are being shared,” says Marc Hoskins, Technical Manager at Surgical Repair Technologies

All instruments repaired by Mobile Instrument go through several quality control checks before they are approved and returned to the customer.
In most cases, repair turnaround time is between one and four business days after approval is obtained. While this quick turnaround time usually makes loaner equipment unnecessary, Surgical Repair Technologies does offer a variety of flexible and rigid endoscopes and accessories at no extra charge to meet customers’ special needs. Free pick-up and delivery is offered for customers located within 60 miles of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, but customers outside the metro area can take advantage of UPS ground service return shipping, free of charge.

As a manufacturer of precision surgical instruments, Olympus is dedicated to helping customers care for their instruments to extend their useful life. This includes offering a wide range of repairs from minor adjustments to complete refurbishments where the scope is disassembled to the component level and rebuilt to original manufacturing specifications. Olympus services and repairs its entire product line, including rigid telescopes, flexible endoscopes, ancillary electronic products, and accessories.

“To ensure that safety and reliability are never compromised in the service and repair of medical equipment, it is critical for these products to be serviced by factory-trained personnel according to the original product design and performance specifications. As the OEM, our repair services must comply with the FDA’s Quality System regulation. In addition, Olympus uses only manufacturer-approved parts and repair processes,” says Eddie Garcés, Vice President of Olympus Medical Equipment Services America Inc. With 18 service centers located throughout the United States, Olympus offers 24-hour turnaround times, on average, for a wide range of surgical repairs. They also offer their Advanced Replacement Program (ARP) to customers, in which they will ship a factory-refurbished, replacement unit to the customer in advance of receiving the equipment to be repaired.

With over 200 years of combined experience in the medical repair and manufacturing business, Five Star Surgical repairs all surgical hand-held products, with a special niche of full instrument tray refurbishment. The company’s services are offered nationwide on a preventative maintenance basis, so that hospitals can rotate their instrument inventory through Five Star Surgical on a recurrent basis and have them returned in “like new” condition.

Instrument repairs can usually be completed in 24 hours, if scheduled by the customer. Otherwise, two to three days is standard. While seldom required due to the efficiency of the repair turnaround, power equipment and various instrument and retractor system loaners are available. Five Star Surgical follows GMP Regulations, and have a written Quality System in place, as well as a full staff of trained and certified technicians and Quality Assurance personnel. All services they provide are backed by a 90-day warranty.

An Olympus factory-trained technician at one of the company’s 18 service centers located in the United States.
Five Star Surgical is authorized by many OEM companies, and is held to very stringent quality standards. David Cabral, Director of New Business and Principal at Five Star Surgical, stresses the importance of knowing the quality and strengths of a repair vendor before hiring them. “It is imperative to visit the facility, if at all possible. Meet the technicians, check their credentials, learn how things are done and get references,” he advises. “The most effective businesses choose their vendors based on strengths, and the surgical instrument business is no different. Don’t hire a repair vendor because the sales rep or technician is a “nice guy,” hire them because they have the experience to service your instruments in the finest way possible.”

Spectrum Surgical Instruments Corp., headquartered in Stow, Ohio, also offers a full range of instrument and equipment repair services, providing rigid and flexible scope repair services and power equipment repair, including air hose and battery pack repair. In addition, Spectrum repairs all makes and models of Phaco handpieces, cameras and video equipment, harmonic scalpels, sterilization containers, diamond knives, ophthalmic instruments, laparoscopic instruments, arthroscopic instruments, diamond dusting, and flexible biopsy forceps.

Spectrum’s state-of-the-art repair laboratory is located at its headquarters, but they also have a fleet of mobile repair labs. These vehicles are equipped with all the necessary tools to perform full service on-location repair. Spectrum's German-trained technicians are able to perform general and advanced repairs, such as on urological and laparoscopic instruments, on location.

Spectrum is also committed to educating its customers and helping them to better care for their instruments. “One service that Spectrum employs is serial number tracking for equipment in need of repair, and we’ll track the frequency of the instrument's repair history. So, if a facility only has one gastroscope and it goes down, this can be very costly to a facility, and a loaner, although welcome, is only a temporary solution. In many cases, Spectrum will recommend that a facility increase their inventory to help lighten the load on the single instrument that is constantly being sent in for repair. This will decrease the repair expenditures and also ensure that cases aren't canceled due to lack of equipment,” says Alex Vrancich, General Manager of Spectrum.

There are many things to consider when choosing a repair vendor. Of course, cost, convenience, parts quality, and customer service are all important, but each individual hospital and medical center has its own special needs and requirements. There are a number of high-quality, registered repair providers currently serving the market, and most are very willing to work with health care facilities to provide them with the service that best fits their needs. Olympus’s Eddie Garcés offers this advice, “Think of your repair provider as your partner, who has your best interests in mind. An ideal repair provider takes steps to help ensure patient safety, product reliability, and repair prevention, while demonstrating consistent capability to perform repairs without altering the original specifications of the product that you purchased.”
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