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HOSPITAL SERVICES MICHAEL BROWN – BIOMEDICAL SERVICES TECHNICIAN, CHRISTCHURCH PUBLIC HOSPITAL, NEW ZEALAND


Howbiomedtechnicians make hospitals safer


Christchurch Hospital is the largest teaching and research hospital in the South Island of New Zealand, with over 4,000 staff on site. It provides a full range of emergency, acute, elective and outpatient services. Here, biomedical services technician Michael Brown explores the crucial role of ‘biomeds’ in making the hospital a safer place.


Christchurch Public Hospital, New Zealand.


Christchurch Hospital has the busiest emergency department (ED) in Australasia, treating more than 83,000 patients a year. On average, 300 patients pass through it every day.


As a biomedical services technician, I am a member of a team that currently consists of 31 members, making it the largest clinical engineering department in New Zealand. Out of the 31 members, our department is broken down into smaller sub-groups, comprising of a dedicated dialysis service, mobility services, school and community dental, theatres, labs and several other hospitals. Our department also manages equipment over more than 50 sites, from private hospitals through to small medical centres.


Ashburton Hospital’s acute admitting unit in Christchurch.


When people ask me what I do as a ‘biomed’, I tell them that I service and repair anything that plugs into a patient and a wall. A colleague once described it this way: if all the clinicians moved to a new building, we would go with the doctors and nurses, whereas facilities maintenance would stay with the building. The main part of my job is maintaining


and repairing medical devices however, the position is much broader than this. All medical centres and hospitals


in New Zealand must comply with the AS/NZS3551 standard for managing medical equipment. In Australia, I understand that this standard is considered best practice whereas, in New Zealand, compliance with the standard is mandated


Michael Brown


Michael Brown is a biomedical services technician at Christchurch Public Hospital. His specific areas of responsibility include the


emergency department, resuscitation equipment, rural hospitals and numerous clients outside the hospital. He originally started his career as an electronics technician for a Wellington


company, manufacturing foreign object detection equipment for the food and textiles industry. After later specialising in industrial X-ray, metal detection and weighing systems, he started working for the Canterbury District Health Board. Having worked for more


than 10 years in this field, he is still constantly learning new things, and working on new equipment.


IFHE DIGEST 2021


by legislation. AS/NZS3551 is my bible, and most of what I do is prescribed in the document.


Not just fixer-uppers! It is important to recognise that the clinical engineering department is not just about repairing broken things, which is how many staff appear to see us. Clinicians and hospital managers tend to relegate biomeds to lower ground floors, external buildings and out of the way places. Even in my own hospital facility where I


work, we are on the lower ground floor, just down the hallway from the mortuary. We sometimes joke in-house about how handy it is given the age of many of my colleagues.


Although we repair and maintain medical equipment, our job is much more than walking around with analysers on a cart, making sure that equipment works. We are the hidden force within the hospital, working behind the scenes of surgical and EDs. Not only do we provide a safety


analysis on equipment, we calibrate and inspect equipment to see if a component is wearing out. Then, we replace it, preventing the need for emergency repairs that always seem to occur outside of normal working hours. I read recently that the space shuttle


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