From the staff development bookshelf: Nurse leaders’ role in purchasing capital equipment

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, December 9, 2011

Providing patients with current technology and staff with safe equipment is a primary goal of the nurse leader. The nurse leader's level of involvement in capital equipment purchases varies from organization to organization. Whether the bulk of the responsibility for capital equipment planning, evaluation, and justification falls to the nurse leader or to another position in the organization, it is imperative that the nurse leader understands what is involved in this critical business and patient process. 

Capital equipment is defined by each organization. Generally, capital equipment is equipment that has a life of greater than two years, and is above a dollar amount that is defined by the organization. The cost is usually between $500.00 and $2,500.00.

Thinking of all the equipment in your department and trying to predict what you will need in the future can be an overwhelming feat. Using a logical approach of considering historical purchases, current business, and future trends will help you organize future purchase predictions.

Capital equipment can be classified into one of three categories:

  • Replacement
  • Expansion of existing services
  • Expansion into a new service

Replacement predictions are the place to start in planning for capital equipment. Hopefully, you have a current capital asset listing that indicates the original cost and purchase date of the equipment, the expected life of the equipment, and its depreciation value. Based on this information, you can predict when equipment is expected to outlive its predicted years. If you do not have such an asset listing to use as a blueprint for your planning, you will have to use any historical data you might have regarding when the equipment in your department was purchased and the expected life of the equipment. Many major expense items occur only once or twice in a 15-year period, but need to be anticipated so that smaller purchases during those years can be diverted.

Source: Book excerpt adapted from The Nurse Leader's Guide to Business Skills: Strategies for Optimizing Financial Performance by Pamela Hunt, BS, MSN, RN, and Deborah Laughon, RN, BSN, MS, DBA, CCRN.

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