9. Remote operation of bedside medical devices
When medical devices that were designed to be operated primarily at the bedside are instead operated remotely, whether by positioning the devices outside the patient room or by some other means, it can result in problems for the patient and personnel. ECRI’s concerns include:
- Less frequent direct visual assessment of the patient, which may prevent staff from observing clinically relevant conditions or device complications.
- Adverse effects on device performance are associated with longer tubing sets, for example, or with staff being unable to see or hear the functioning of the device.
- Infection risks associated with increased connection points on infusion tubing or compromised patient isolation (e.g., if cables are channeled through an ajar door).
- Obstacles resulting from placing devices in the hallways, including tripping hazards and overcrowding that can hinder transportation within the care unit.
- The potential for unauthorized device access or tampering.
The organization recommends remote device operation only during highly unusual circumstances (such as a public health emergency), only for as long as necessary, only after assessing the risks and benefits based on the individual patient’s condition, and only after verifying that the concerns outlined above can be mitigated.