How’d That Get in Here?

September 5, 2007 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

I’d like to say I saw Lee Ann Runy’s article, Is That Product Safe?, in this month’s Materials Management in Health Care magazine, but honestly I’m a little behind in my reading.   With that confession, in the August, 2007 issue, Ms. Runy outlines the steps hospitals need to take in assuring product integrity throughout the delivery stream.  Her article thoughtfully documents the tiers of participants and their roles in handling product safety – from the manufacturers to the distributors to governments and providers.   Take a moment to read her article.   What seems like a straightforward issue has many twists and turns.

 Now, I thought I knew all the ways our vendor information management services could be applied.   But Ms. Runy wrote something that I hadn’t thought of:    

Another challenge is addressing products that enter hospitals via other avenues—for example, items that vendors provide directly to physicians. These will not show up on the item master so recall notifications won’t be distributed. In many instances, clinicians believe they are saving the hospital money by accepting a free product, Holbein says.  OSU Medical Center holds a class for sales representatives that sell certain types of products to address these issues and has a process in place for clinicians to request participation in product trials. At WellSpan Health, York, Pa., any products provided by vendors are considered to be gifts and the foundation sends a thank-you note to the sales representative. “That usually stops them in their tracks,” says Jim Smoker, the director of materials resource services. 

Our recent post, Heads Will Roll, had suggested that the outcome of product safety issues would be additional government watch lists.   But Ms. Runy shows how some hospital administrators are already closing the backdoor to product distribution from their vendors in the name of patient safety.   What a great idea! 

Our Take:   As you set up your hospital’s unique compliance acknowledgments for your vendors, consider including a requirement that all free samples must be cleared with materials management before distribution.   Your physicians are trying to do right by their patients by taking advantage of these samples, but you’re also trying to do right by your patients by knowing what materials are in use where.  

And just in case you think this is an overreaction, I’ll pull one more fact from Ms. Runy’s article:   The ECRI Institute reports that the number of medical device recalls grew from 241 in 2001 to 953 in 2006.  

Entry filed under: materials management, product recall, vendor management.

What’s My Line? The Buck Stops Here

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