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ICU staffing: Identification and survey of staff involved in providing technical support services to Australian and New Zealand intensive care units

Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Units, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Summary

We conducted a survey of all (200) Australian and New Zealand intensive care units to determine the presence and nature of staff employed in a technical support role. Specifically, we attempted to identify staff who are formally employed in a role where they are directly responsible for the equipment used in intensive care. Of 130 returned surveys, 80 units (62%) reported not having any personnel in this role. In these units technical tasks were most commonly performed by registered nurses (79%) but were also performed by a variety of other personnel. Fifty units (38%), consisting of approximately 105 individuals providing a total of 84.3 EFTs and most commonly in public (84%) or metropolitan (70%) hospitals or level 3 (64%) intensive care units, did have one or more staff acting in a formal technical support role. The most common groups filling the technical support role were nurses (42%), technicians (24%), biomedical engineers (10%) and technologists (6%). The most common duties performed were equipment troubleshooting (92%), training (80%), equipment evaluation (80%), ordering supplies (77%), consumable evaluation (75%), equipment cleaning (73%), delivery of supplies (70%), handling product recalls (65%), equipment maintenance (65%) and sitting on hospital committees (52%). This is the first attempt to identify and understand the technical support role in Australian and New Zealand intensive care units. Numerous issues remain and future work will hopefully add to our findings, with the possibility of formal recognition of the role, training and/or accreditation and its extension into other hospital departments.

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