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Life cycle of imaging equipment
Management of medical imaging equipment during its life cycle is a major responsibility of the diagnostic medical physicist. The life cycle of the equipment is often referred to as the “birth to death cycle of the equipment”. In reality, the medical physicist is involved before the birth (installation) of the equipment at the facility. The medical physicist is a partner with radiologists, supervising radiographers, administration and others throughout the entire process starting with discussions on what type of equipment is needed.
The medical physicist should draw up a business plan for the equipment including life cycle costs of the equipment (preventive maintenance, major repair costs, service contract costs, etc.). Often the equipment purchase price from one manufacturer may be low but the service costs over the life of the equipment make the total life cycle cost much higher than for another manufacturer.
The medical physicist is the expert about the technical and radiation aspects of medical imaging equipment and is a key player in equipment selection, specification, and purchase process. Consequently, it is essential to understand the needs of the staff relative to the equipment and to assist them in the selection process, pointing out the features and issues of particular functions the equipment provides. Since a major operational cost is equipment service and repair parts, the medical physicist must manage these aspects of the equipment life cycle.
Monitoring equipment installation and calibration is essential as many discrepancies can be corrected during this process. Acceptance testing and commissioning are critical, especially when one considers that medical imaging equipment today may cost $500,000 to more than $2 million.
An often overlooked responsibility of the medical physicist is the end of warranty acceptance test. This test, using basically all of the tests carried out during the acceptance test, is performed about one month before the end of the system warranty period. The purpose for this is to locate any system functions that are not performing to specifications so that they may be corrected at no cost to the facility before the end of the warranty period.
The medical physicist plays a key role starting before the medical imaging equipment is selected and throughout the life cycle of the equipment.
Introduction to References
There is a paucity of good references in the literature on this topic. However, an internet search using terms such as “x-ray department design” will provide some additional sources.