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Why broken down medical equipment is a serial problem for nurses

Locating the serial number to report a broken machine is impossible for anyone without the agility of an ape and the eyesight of a peregrine falcon

Locating the serial number to report a broken machine is impossible for anyone without the agility of an ape and the eyesight of a peregrine falcon


Finding a serial number requires detective work. Picture: iStock

If I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring. And I would also guarantee this: that every manufacturer of large static medical equipment would ensure the machine’s serial number was writ large somewhere visible.  

You know what it’s like – something goes horribly wrong with your scanner, for example, and the first thing you are asked, when reporting its possible demise, is the serial number. All our serial numbers are written down somewhere, but under duress, which is always when we need it, the information has mysteriously disappeared. 

Contortionist required

'Can’t someone just come and look at it?' you cry, trying not to snap, as the person making this unreasonable demand sounds as though they are sitting there clock watching, while you have a waiting room full of patients whose treatment depends on this ailing contraption. 'No, must have the serial number,' says the underemployed person, and there is a thud as your heart plummets into your shoes, because the serial number is always somewhere low down and inaccessible.  

In fact, if you ever see a nurse lying on the floor and emitting sounds of distress, she has not collapsed but is looking for this minute set of digits. Over 40 or remotely unfit? Then you don’t stand a chance of finding it.  

The best way to retrieve the number (and I’ve tried everything, including attempting to photograph it with my phone) is to find someone young with the agility of an ape and the eyesight of a peregrine falcon, who is willing to contort themselves to retrieve it. Can’t the manufacturers have mercy on us and display them in full view?


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire
 

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