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MSc in Physical Sciences in Medicine

What is Clinical Engineering

A Clinical Engineer is a professional who supports and advances patient care by applying engineering and managerial skills to healthcare technology." -ACCE Definition, 1992

Clinical Engineering is the application of engineering and technology to analyse and provide solutions for the clinical needs of patients.   This is a diverse profession covering many areas of health care and clinical engineers often specialise in one aspect of the field.   Engineering design, research, development, service management and service delivery are common areas of activity for clinical engineers.  

As clinical medicine has become increasingly dependent on more sophisticated technologies and the complex equipment associated with it, the clinical engineer has become the bridge between modern medicine and engineering.

The Clinical Engineering in the Intensive Care Environment

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Clinical engineering is an interdisciplinary field practiced in a variety of settings and presents a diversity of challenges. The clinical engineer is, by education and training, a problem solver, working with complex human and technological systems.

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In the hospital setting the clinical engineer often functions as the technology manager for medical equipment systems. The responsibilities in this setting include financial or budgetary management, service contract management, data processing systems for managing the medical equipment and coordination of service agreements and in-house operations. The hospital-based clinical engineer may also have responsibility for supervision of the in-house maintenance staff, depending on his or her skill set and the structure of the department. Hospital-based clinical engineers also fill other important functions in assuring that the medical equipment is safe and effective.

The Clinical Engineering in the Intensive Care Environment

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ICU has always been associated with complex medical technology. As the field of health technology advances, the ability of clinicians to support and treat patients improves and the number of positive outcomes increases. However, the application of complex and emerging technologies at the point of care brings with it a requirement for science, engineering and technology support in its broadest sense. Traditionally support for medical equipment has been considered from a device and maintenance perspective; however this is no longer a complete or valid approach.

Clinical Engineers have pioneered a new paradigm by forming multidisciplinary groups placed at the point of care to support the application of technology. They in turn work with medical, nursing and paramedical staff to ensure that the care delivered through the application of technology is optimised. The remit of these Clinical Engineering groups includes the traditional asset management but extends well beyond to include science consultancy, education and training, technology assessment, health informatics, research and innovation


Last updated 21 September 2016 by Medical Physics/Bioengineering (Email).