How to Buy the Right Anesthesia Monitor

Patient safety is what it’s all about. When medical procedures involve administering anesthesia, reliable monitoring equipment is one critical part of ensuring safety, and success. And having the right monitor for your medical cases and circumstances is the key to reliability.

Anesthesia monitors monitor gases, drugs and fluids to control dosage as they’re delivered to patients, and are also used to measure and continuously display the patient’s physiological state during anesthesia processes. They feature monitoring alarms that detect and alert staff to out-of-range factors or conditions.

Many anesthesia monitors are stand alone units, while others are part of an anesthesia machine or workstation, or multivariable monitor.

A lot of companies make high-quality anesthesia monitors, offering them with varied features and options in different shapes and sizes. It’s easy to get a little frustrated attempting to know which monitor is right for your patient needs. Selecting the right monitor involves understanding needs and then comparing options, features, and pricing. Medical-equipment dealers with a solid understanding of anesthesia monitors’ comparative features and functions can offer helpful advice.

Anesthesia Monitor Features

The unique nature of your medical practice, its activities and operational environment, define the features and functions your anesthesia monitors need. Hospitals and medical practices are economic enterprises and can’t invest precious resources in monitors that have too few or too many features and functions. You want to be able to get the job done right, safely, effectively and efficiently but don’t want idle capacity. The trick is to select a monitor that gives you the functions you need and will use.

Questions you should ask when evaluating your needs and anesthesia monitors include:

Essential Features

  1. Does the monitor offer multiple Patient Modes—e.g., adult, pediatric and neonatal?
  2. Does it allow you to automatically capture a complete set of anesthesia stats in a short time frame?
  3. Does it provide spot monitoring?
  4. Does it permit different configurations to accommodate different clinical needs?
  5. What are its trend reporting and display capabilities?
  6. Does it have timed intervals and alarm capabilities? Are they programmable?
  7. Does the monitor have built-in memory capable of saving and easily scrolling to many sets of patient measurement data? Carefully consider how much patient information you’ll need the monitor to store and record.
  8. Does it have an optional integrated thermal printer for trend analysis or record keeping that prints instantly when you touch the button?

Communication Capabilities

  1. Can monitor data be sent directly to other medical professionals?
  2. Does it offer wireless transfer of anesthesia metrics from the point of care directly into your Electronic Medical Records (EMR)?
  3. Does it offer caregiver authentication and patient record validation at the bedside, and patient record review before export to EMR? These features help eliminate data-entry errors and improve efficiency. Is it compatible with popular EMR systems for both large facilities and small offices?
  4. What are its communication capabilities? Can the unit easily communicate and co-work with hospital information systems and other hospital facilities? (E.g., nurse call, Wi-Fi, LAN, HL7.)
    • Does it permit seamless information flow and data exchange between the anesthesia monitor and external devices?
    • Do networking features give you fast and easy access to clinical information and patient data when and where you need it, e.g., through a central and web viewer at the central station, in other care areas, or in the doctor’s office?

What Does it Measure?

  1. Does it offer automated blood-pressure averaging so you can be more accurate in hypertension diagnosis without stalling your workflow?
  2. Does it feature different blood pressure modes and non-invasive blood pressure (i.e., auto, manual, continuous, average)?
  3. What type of thermometry does the monitor use? Can it obtain oral, rectal and axillary temperatures with the speed and accuracy you need?
  4. Does it feature arrhythmia analysis?
  5. Does it feature complete 5-agent auto-ID, CO2, O2 and N2O analysis for comprehensive and reliable gas monitoring?
  6. Does it feature ECG, pulse oximetry and a recorder?

User Interface

  1. Is the user interface high-resolution, does it have a large digital display that’s easy to see in dark or lighted environments?
  2. Are menus simplified, customizable and easy to use? Is it simple to learn and program?
  3. Does it allow easy one-touch access to frequently used vital functions and features? Does it have dedicated function keys?
  4. Is navigation simple and intuitive?

Mobility and Flexibility

  1. What are the monitor’s mounting and mobility options? Is it portable and lightweight, enabling you to take it wherever you need it?
  2. What type of battery does the monitor use and how long does it last? How often does the monitor need to be charged? How is the unit on power consumption?
  3. Can it operate reliably on battery for uninterrupted patient care during transport?
  4. Is the monitor upgradeable?
  5. Is the monitor compatible with other equipment already in your operation/facility?
  6. Does it have a bar code scanner?
  7. Is the noise it generates controllable suit your environment? Does it make a lot of noise? Or is it quiet enough to meet your patient needs?

Carefully consider all features and how they will help your busy department meet performance, reliability and safety standards.

When considering anesthesia monitor features, look for those that make operation easy and reliable, reduce errors and unit operation time, improve staff efficiency, and leave your team better able to focus on and spend time with patients.

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