It’s easy to think that patient safety is reliant on medical staff, but everyone plays a role in creating a safe and secure environment. From an experienced physician to a patient guest, each individual who enters a healthcare facility can affect the environment, and the environment, in turn, affects the quality of care a patient receives. In fact, one of the forces behind the development of vendor credentialing services was the realization that medical equipment manufacturers, their sales reps and other professional visitors could dramatically affect patient safety.
According to The New York Times, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently toughened “testing procedures for manufacturers of reusable medical devices.” The new requirements were put into place after five people got sick and two people died in a Los Angeles hospital from a deadly bacteria traced to reusable medical scopes. FDA officials said the stricter guidelines could apply to a “broad array of reusable devices, including the type of scopes at issue in California.”
The Miami Herald reports, that “manufacturers will be required to thoroughly soil their devices and then follow their own cleaning instructions to prove that the device can be adequately disinfected.” But these tests must go beyond the laboratories. Once the device has passed FDA guidelines, the equipment manufacturers’ reps must be able to adequately train their hospitals on the proven disinfection process. That’s one of the reasons why we recommend that hospitals require their vendor representatives to provide the Evidence of Employer Product/Service Competency credential.
Interestingly, this key credential was recognized as a best practice even before the creation of third-party credential management. Before vendor credentialing services, vendor companies introduced their employees via a competency letter. The letter, now in the form of a credential, is still being used today as an introduction of the employee and the scope of their training. It’s also a statement that the company has confidence in the individual representing their product or service.
As guidelines change and a broader focus on patient safety continues to grow, healthcare facilities must be able to place their confidence in the products and services supplied to them by their vendor partners. Only with proper training can facilities fully take advantage of all the benefits provided by the product or service and ensure it is being used correctly. By making sure the Evidence of Employer Product/Service Competency credential reflects current standards and training, the facility is helping to ensure patient safety. Fortunately for both facilities and patients, vendor companies have proven to be willing partners in the fight to safeguard patients.