hospitals are replacing mercury sphygmomanometers with cost-competitive
aneroid sphygmomanometers. An aneroid sphygmomanometer is a mechanical
gage with a round dial and needle that rotates to indicate pressure from
0-300 mm Hg. On the inside, a bellows and spring mechanism senses and
transmits the blood pressure measurement to the dial.
Aneroid units have
several features that are appealing to healthcare professionals:
- The dial of
an aneroid gage is much easier to read and requires considerably less
effort than the meniscus of a mercury column, which requires awkward
head movement to do a good job.
- It is easy to
see if the aneroid needle is off zero when not in use. This provides
a good indication of whether the gage has been damaged or needs maintenance,
and is an easy check each time a reading is taken.
- It is easy to
check the needle for smooth rotation, another way of verifying that
the aneroid device is in good working order.
new sphygmomanometers, a few considerations up front can make your life
easier in the long run:
- Verify that
all components are latex free.
- Some manufacturers
routinely offer free lifetime calibration, or this can be negotiated
in the contract. Consider the implications of calibration done at
your site (more convenient) or at the manufacturer (which requires
addition units on hand). One hospital's contract called for the manufacturer
to randomly evaluate accuracy of 25% of the units quarterly, so that
each year a unit is inspected once by the manufacturer.
- When you buy
the aneroid devices, ask the manufacturer to accept intact mercury
sphygmomanometers for recycling. If this is negotiated in the
contract, it saves the expense of disposing of mercury devices.
- Consider the
need for spare units. For offsite calibration, extra units
allow a swap with instruments in current use. These spares keep the
hospital running while allowing the use of more cost efficient ground
shipment to and from calibration.
- When you receive
new units, consider bar coding them. This allows you to track
reliability and performance, calibration status, and inventory status.
- If you check
sphygmomanometer accuracy at your site, make sure your reference
gage is mercury free. An example of a viable digital reference
is the NETECH DigiMano 2000 (http://www.GoNetech.com),
which is provided with calibration traceable to a NIST standard.
For more information
about alternatives to mercury sphygmomanometers contact the SHP at 978-934-3386
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.