A few years ago, my mum, June, needed surgery for an abdominal hernia. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and at 81 years old she wears a shirt that says, “thinking I’m an old lady is your first mistake. “
I know she can handle herself, but I felt the need to accompany her on this healthcare journey. I soon learned we only had two supplier options for surgical mesh within our health system. This was a bit concerning because I know many manufacturers are producing surgical mesh. As a consumer, I wanted more options. I asked the physician for the product part numbers and lot numbers so I could do some research and I was initially met with resistance. I explained that I was launching a medical device data platform and that I want to see if the product has a history of recalls. When I commit to a product, I also want to know if the manufacturer has a history of recalls. They eventually gave me the information and as I began to research both products, I realized that one company had several recalls on surgical mesh over the years, but the other company had none. This information made the choice easy, and we, of course, selected the company with no recalls. But I wondered how many consumers would know to do this kind of research. I also wondered why this hospital system continued to purchase mesh from a company with a long history of mesh recalls.
Health systems shouldn’t have to protect their patients from manufacturers, but that’s the reality of our world today. Patient safety should be first and foremost but beyond that, recalls create a ton of work for the healthcare industry. When I put my faith in a health system, I trust that they can weed out those suppliers (from the cost, quality, and outcome assessments), that have a high rate of recalled products. I want hospitals to stop buying from companies that are repeat offenders. I also want the GPOs to stop contracting with companies that are repeat offenders. The savings aren’t worth it. And all too often, it’s political. I know this because I’ve spent the last 23 years working within the healthcare supply chain. However, I believe firmly that hospitals can change this game. The threat of losing business is the most compelling event for change and we need healthcare providers to take a stand against the manufacturers that consistently fail the community. There are better companies waiting to take their place.
I accompanied my mum on the day of her surgery to make sure the right mesh was installed, and I even asked to see the product before the surgery. The physician wasn’t happy with me, but I was and I still am unapologetic. She can’t afford additional surgeries – no one can.
Medical Device recalls rose 2,625% in Q1 of 2022. As a consumer, you should question everything about the products being used on you. Manufacturers need to be held accountable and I believe it’s time for hospitals to take the lead on our behalf. As we begin this new year there are thousands of patients who remain in hospital beds across the country due to faulty products. We have the power to change the industry, but we need hospitals to stop buying from manufacturers that consistently produce recalled products. If hospitals work together to penalize manufacturers on our behalf, it would drastically improve patient safety across the country.
Watch this short video to learn how Meperia Strategic Sourcing can help your organization avoid recalled products.
About the Author
Lee Ann McWhorter is the Vice President of Business Development at Meperia. Her primary goals are to reduce data error, reduce cost and improve patient safety in the healthcare industry. Lee Ann has worked with the founders of Meperia for over 16 years and understands the breakpoints in the healthcare supply chain and the need for unbiased, quality data moving forward. For more information about Meperia please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.