Brazilian clinical engineering regulations: health equipment management and conditions for professional exercise

Abstract Introduction In Brazil, professionals, scientific community, and members of regulatory bodies have not yet achieved a consensus regarding who can legally perform the professional duties of a clinical engineer. We aim at clarifying this aspect, based on a detailed analysis of the pertinent regulations. Methods We acted on three fronts: (i) reviewing the current legislation regarding the clinical engineering exercise; (ii) visiting hospitals and working as trainee to understand how this exercise is implemented on Brazil’s Federal District; (iii) one of the authors participated in virtual discussion groups of clinical engineering professionals, monitoring collective understanding of regulations, checking consistency of proper knowledge, and acting as an active opinion leader in the subject among peers. Results We try to make a formal definition of clinical engineer and indicate their characteristic activities. We propose a synthesis of the regulation regarding healthcare products’ integrity protection and health technology management, identifying the engineering activities necessary to achieve those legal requirements. We analyze the legal constraints and conditions to exert engineering, indicating the necessary professionals’ attributions and the way to obtain them. Finally, we provide a brief analysis of the technical requirements presented by the Brazilian Consumer Protection Code and of the 15.943 Brazilian Standard (NBR). Discussion We conclude that, despite the lack of consensus about the Clinical Engineering activity, there exists in Brazil a Clinical Engineering regulation, but it is spread in complex laws and normative resolutions, defining compulsory responsibilities and attributions, as well as conditions and prerequisites for role performance.