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Life Saving Trolleys

(15 September 2018)

By Lim Teck Heng, IEL Student Writer

Military Medicine Institute (MMI), the organisation in charge of SAF Medical Centres across the island, is one of the problem statement providers for InnoVenture 2018. To allow participants to gain insight into how inspections of the Emergency Trolley (E-Trolley) are conducted, MMI invited two groups of NUS students over to SAFTI Medical Centre across two separate days (20th and 24th September) to watch a live demonstration by SAF medics. We were there on 20th September to attend the first demonstration.

Ms Lee Xiao Qi, Healthcare Cluster Manager, she started off the session by explaining the nature of MMI’s operations. Akin to polyclinics in the civilian world, SAF Medical Centres provide primary healthcare services, but targeted at military personnel.

She proceeded to outline the problem that MMI faced with the E-Trolley. Every E-Trolley has a standardised layout and stock list of resuscitation drugs and equipment. Duty Medics are responsible for frequent checks on the E-Trolley to ensure that all the stocks are serviceable and in the right arrangement. The ability to retrieve the drugs and equipment readily greatly boosts the chances of saving the patient’s life in the case of a resuscitation case. Medics will sound off during the checks if they notice any expired, broken, or missing stocks so that swift replacement can be done. However, these thorough checks can be time-consuming, taking up entire mornings, and are prone to human error. Therefore, MMI hoped to enlist the help of students to devise a stocktaking method that was more streamlined and efficient, yet not compromising on accuracy.

After her briefing, students were allowed into the resuscitation room to watch a medic going through a routine check of the E-Trolley. Having been on the ground and understood the practical challenges, the medic could point out to the onlooking students those aspects of the inspection that were especially tedious. For example, he highlighted that the date format on the physical checklist differed from that on the drug packaging, so extra care had to be taken when verifying the expiry dates. This posed especial inconvenience to the medic who had to record down the expiry dates on the checklist at the start of every month.

Later on, students broke into groups and a medic was attached to each group. The medics were glad to answer any lingering questions that the students had, and also provide their perspectives on how the inspection process could be improved. Common concerns raised by the medics include certain equipment having similar-sounding names, and equipment with the same name differing in their expiry dates, both of which could lead to confusion. Some felt that regular checks might actually increase the risk of losing parts during the process of breaking seal.

Following this valuable visit, students had a better grasp of the customers’ needs and could begin brainstorming possible solutions. A big thank you to SAF MMI for allowing us the opportunity to enter the base and see the actual E-Trolley and learn first hand about the difficulties in inspecting them. We look forward to the seeing the solutions students will derive at IdeaLaunch!