Quality control is critical in the fabrication process

BOSTON – Quality assurance, while time-consuming and tedious, is necessary in the creation of orthotic devices and a simple sheet which details the route the device takes along the fabrication process may be all that is needed to help keep quality issues at bay, according to recent presentation.

William Clover, Jr., vice president of fabrication services, Ottobock, spoke at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association Technical Summit held at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly here. He said the information received from a clinician is often minimal: a cast, a business card, an order form and written instructions. The instructions may not be detailed enough, or may contain extraneous information.

“That’s typical, that’s how we get things,” he said.

William Clover, Jr. 

William Clover Jr.

A tremendous amount of information has to be gathered to be successful, starting with measurements, modification specifications, material, thickness and liner placement, he said.

“You give that to the technicians and they start reading through the papers and it can be confusing. It can take a long time. There’s the opportunity for miscommunication and there’s not a trail back to figure out where something went wrong,” Clover said.

His solution is a single quality assurance checklist for the technician, laid out in the order that the device will be fabricated. It should have just the information that is needed to do that particular job.

“Each time the device moves from one area to the next, the person who worked on it initials it and a second technician looks at it [and initials it] to ensure they’ve accomplished what needed to be done. That’s part of quality control, so if a complaint comes back, you have a trail. Did we miss something in the instructions? Did the work instructions not give us enough information to do the job? Did we pull the wrong material?  Then you know who worked on it and how it was done, so we can find out what we missed and take steps to correct it,” he said.

For more information:

Clover W. KAFO from start to finish. Presented at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly 2012. Sept. 6-9, Boston.

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