Load Cell Reliability and Force Measurement in Healthcare

The Importance of Load Cell Reliability in Healthcare

In the healthcare sector, precision isn't just a requirement—it's a necessity where the margins for error are perilously thin, and the consequences of inaccuracy can be grave. At the heart of this precision lies the unassuming yet critical load cell, a device whose reliability is foundational to many medical applications ranging from diagnostics to patient care.

Load Cells: The Unseen Guardians of Patient Safety

Load cells are embedded within various medical apparatus, including surgical instruments and rehabilitation equipment. The reliability of these load cells is essential for ensuring the accuracy and safety of medical procedures and devices. For example, load cells are used in surgical instruments to monitor the forces being applied to tissues during surgery. This helps surgeons to operate safely and effectively while minimizing the risk of damage to the patient's tissues.

Therefore, ensuring the steadfast performance of these devices is more than just a technical concern—load cell reliability is a critical patient safety imperative. The wrong measurement, equipment, or not using the same adapters used for calibration is a process issue that can lead to negative patient care outcomes and lawsuits.

Don't overlook the critical roles that force measurement and load cells play in healthcare.

Diverse Applications of Force Measurement in Healthcare

Force measurement is a critical component in various applications within the health market. Here are some of the areas where force measurement is needed:

  • Biomechanics and Orthopedics: Force measurement is essential for assessing the forces and pressures on the human body during activities such as walking, running, or lifting. This information is crucial in designing and evaluating orthopedic devices, like prosthetics, orthotics, and joint replacements.
  • Rehabilitation: Force measurement is used in physical therapy and rehabilitation to assess the strength and progress of patients recovering from injuries or surgeries. It helps therapists design appropriate exercise programs.
  • Dental and Orthodontics: Force measurement is essential to apply the proper force to move teeth during orthodontic treatment. Dental force measurement is also used in researching and developing dental products.
  • Pharmaceuticals: In the pharmaceutical industry, force measurement tests the hardness, compression strength, and disintegration of tablets and other solid dosage forms. This ensures the quality and effectiveness of medications.
  • Medical Devices: Force measurement is used in designing, testing, and quality control of various medical devices, including infusion pumps, catheters, and stents.
  • Surgery: During surgery, force measurement can be used to ensure that the right amount of pressure is applied during procedures. For example, in minimally invasive surgery, surgeons rely on force feedback to perform delicate tasks accurately.
  • Patient Monitoring: Some health monitoring devices use force sensors to measure parameters like blood pressure, pulse, or respiratory rate.
  • Rehabilitation Robotics: Force measurement is essential in rehabilitation robotics, where robotic devices assist or augment physical therapy. Accurate force sensing helps adapt these robots to the specific needs of patients.
  • Ergonomics: Ensuring medical professionals have ergonomic tools and workstations is crucial for their health. Force measurement can be used to evaluate the ergonomic factors affecting healthcare workers.

Force measurement is essential for improving patient care, ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medical procedures and devices, and advancing research and development in the healthcare market. It helps to uphold quality standards and contributes to better patient outcomes. To drive patient care and innovation in healthcare, having the right requirements, equipment, and processes in place for force measurement is crucial.

The right requirements might mean adhering to a ratio of uncertainty to accuracy where the uncertainties are at least five times better than what is being measured. The ratio is critical to limiting the overall measurement risk. The higher the ratio, the less chance of saying something is good when it is bad or bad when it is good. For example, a 5:1 ratio typically controls these risks to less than 2 %.

To get these types of uncertainties typically requires deadweight calibrations. If the specification is 0.1 percent, the equipment used to make the measurement should have a measurement uncertainty greater than 0.02 percent (five times better than 0.1). These ratios need to be determined based on controlling the risk. The rules of metrological traceability say that you can have a measurement uncertainty better than that of the reference lab used to perform the calibration. Hence, if 0.02 percent is what you need to work to, you will likely need a lab with measurement uncertainties of better than 0.01; ideally, that number might be better than 0.004 %.

Not all tools are created equal, and healthcare systems must use the right equipment for the job. Using the wrong equipment can lead to inaccurate measurements and more significant problems. So, always ensure that your equipment suits the task at hand. Technicians are human, and humans make mistakes. Always double-check your measurements to make sure they're accurate. It's easy to overlook a small error, but that small error in healthcare can have big consequences. So, take the time to verify your work and stay vigilant. Don't let success make you complacent. Always be on the lookout for potential risks and take the necessary precautions to prevent them. It's easy to let your guard down when things are going well, but that's when mistakes can happen.

Ensuring Load Cell Reliability: A Multifaceted Approach

Load cells are present in numerous medical equipment pieces, and their reliability directly affects patient safety and care outcomes. Imagine the implications of an infusion pump delivering an incorrect dose because of an unreliable load cell – the consequences could be dire.

Just as in any other sector, the reliability of a load cell in medical equipment depends on several factors:

  • System and Use Factors: These include different adapters, changing thread engagement, cables, overloading, the meter used, and loading cycles. In a hospital setting, frequent usage of devices can contribute to wear and tear.
  • End of Period Reliability (EOPR): Essentially, it's the number of successful calibrations over total calibrations. In healthcare, ensuring this ratio remains high is crucial for patient safety.
  • Sample Size for Reliability: In our investigation, for 95% confidence at a 0.05% reliability level, 59 samples with 0 failures or rejects were necessary to establish a best guess or baseline.
  • External Factors: If not adequately maintained or mismatched, calibration adapters and cables can compromise reliability. A single piece of improperly calibrated equipment in a hospital can jeopardize multiple lives.

How to Ensure Load Cell Reliability in Healthcare

  • Routine Calibrations: Just as the healthcare sector mandates regular checks and maintenance for MRI machines and X-ray equipment, load cell calibrations should be routine. Considering the intensive use of equipment in hospitals, an annual calibration cycle might be advisable.
  • Training: Healthcare professionals should be educated about the significance of load cells in their equipment and trained to identify potential reliability issues.
  • Investing in Quality: Our data suggests that using high-end indicators can achieve a stability of 0.02%. While healthcare budgets can be tight, investing in quality load cells can ensure patient safety and reduce long-term costs related to malfunctions and liabilities.
  • Monitoring Tools: A load cell simulator can help monitor the drift of the meter, ensuring the measurement tool remains reliable. In the fast-paced world of healthcare, this can be an invaluable tool.

The accuracy and reliability of equipment can make a difference between life and death in healthcare. As institutions strive for excellence in patient care, understanding and investing in the tools that power their equipment, like load cells, is non-negotiable. Proper calibration, regular maintenance, and continuous monitoring can ensure that these tools serve their crucial function seamlessly.

Load cells are critical in healthcare, enabling precise measurements essential for patient safety and optimal care outcomes. Their reliability is paramount, as even a minor error can have far-reaching consequences. A multifaceted approach to load cell reliability management is essential, encompassing regular calibrations, personnel training, investment in high-quality equipment, and proactive monitoring.

By prioritizing load cell reliability, healthcare institutions can safeguard patient safety, enhance care quality, and minimize the risk of costly errors. This investment is essential for upholding the highest standards of healthcare delivery.

More Information From Morehouse

We believe in changing how people think about force and torque calibration in everything we do.

This includes setting expectations on load cell reliability and challenging the "just calibrate it" mentality by educating our customers on what matters and what causes significant errors.

We focus on reducing these errors and making our products simple and user-friendly.

This means your instruments will pass calibration more often and produce more precise measurements, giving you the confidence to focus on your business.

Companies around the globe rely on Morehouse for accuracy and speed.

Our measurement uncertainties are 10-50 times lower than the competition.

We turn around your equipment in 7-10 business days so you can return to work quickly, saving you money.

When you choose Morehouse, you're not just paying for a calibration service or a load cell.

You're investing in peace of mind, knowing your equipment is calibrated accurately and on time.

Contact Morehouse at info@mhforce.com to learn more about our calibration services and load cell products.

Email us if you ever want to chat or have questions about a blog.

We love talking about this stuff.

Our YouTube channel has videos on various force and torque calibration topics here.

Please share if you found this helpful.

Newsletter Subscription

  • We're committed to your privacy. Morehouse Instrument Company uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.

Find Related Articles

When You're Looking for More Accurate Measurements

Morehouse would like the opportunity to earn your business. Contact us today.
Contact Us
  • Type

Top cross
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram