If facing the medical reasons for surgery isn’t scary enough, anxiety naturally surges when patients are wheeled into the operating room with its bright lights, mystifying equipment, and atypical noises. Add to that a dozen or so individuals, covered head-to-toe in sterile scrubs, and it can be quite unsettling.  Knowing who will be present in the operating room and knowing they are qualified to be there can be reassuring to patients and their families.
As a case in point, somewhere among those masked individuals there is often a manufacturer or device representative who is present at the request of the surgeon. These reps deliver the medical devices used in surgeries to the hospitals and make sure the scrub techs know which instruments and components the surgeon will need and when they will need them. They may use laser pointers during surgery to point to suggested instruments, answer questions that arise about the particular device or offer instructions for appropriate settings on equipment. Their presence, attention to detail and product knowledge can be invaluable in maintaining the flow of the surgery and keeping it moving to a successful conclusion.
What Patients Have the Right to Know
As part of an ongoing effort to empower patients to be informed partners with their healthcare providers, most healthcare facilities support and maintain patients’ rights policies and standards. In the United States, there have been various versions of patients’ rights bills through the years; the most recently adopted was the 2010 version created with the Affordable Care Act. The current version includes the patient’s right to know who is present during treatments, what organization each person is associated with, and who has access to medical records. Based on this, most facilities are careful to inform surgical patients of any industry representatives who will be present during their procedure as well as to note their presence in a patient’s medical files in case of future surveys or audits. But is this enough? Shouldn’t patients also know that the representative is qualified to be in the operating room?
The need to know more about industry reps and their qualifications is apparent to hospitals. This is made evident by the fact that, while there are no national standardized credentialing requirements for industry representatives, most healthcare facilities have either subscribed to a third-party credentialing service or developed in-house applications. These facilities understand that it takes more than being on friendly terms with industry representatives to ensure they have fulfilled the necessary requirements.
How to Ease Anxiety
Reducing anxiety and stress are a large part of the healing process. A patient should have confidence that the commercial visitor in the operating room has been product-trained, immunized, insured, trained in OR protocol and aseptic techniques, and screened for criminal and drug activity. It’s also important that the patient knows that the representative’s company is fully-confident in the rep’s abilities and stands behind his or her actions.
As part of pre-surgery preparation, the healthcare provider should explain to the patient about third-party credentialing and how it helps improve safety. By understanding how the facility uses the ReptraxTM vendor credentialing system or the new IntelliCentrics SEC3URETM credentialing and privileging service, the patient can rest assured knowing that the rep is fully qualified to be in the OR.
Third-party credentialing can take the stress out of knowing who is in the operating room. Let your patients, and surgical team, focus on the procedure and healing instead.

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