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  • Lauren Salois

Breaking News: Broadcasting Isn’t the Solution!

Does your team receive an extraordinary number of recall notices and field product alerts that do not apply to you? A big pile of papers and an overflowing email inbox is nothing short of stressful and makes the job of recall coordinators at both suppliers and providers overwhelming and inefficient.

Paper alerts (the method used by medical device manufacturers and distributors to alert hospitals of a recall that affects the product they received) sometimes get lost and do not reach the intended organization. Years ago, to try to help with that, solutions popped up in the market, providing hospitals with a feed of all recalls issued (we will call these solutions “broadcasters”). The idea was to provide information on every single recall issued, so that nothing would be missed. Unfortunately, an unintended consequence is an overflow of confusion.


Broadcasters are those companies, like television broadcasters, who provide news regardless of whether it is relevant to you. For example, some hospitals that receive a recall notice directly from a supplier (because they are affected by such a recall) will in turn notify the broadcaster who will then forward that notice to all the hospitals they serve, whether that recall affects them or not. These broadcasters are getting the word out about the recall, but they are also creating lots of confusion and redundancy.


Many healthcare facilities who are not impacted by the recall, are receiving recall notices from the broadcaster which they then respond to, leading to an excess of unexpected replies to the supplier. Frequently, hospitals do not have the time or staff to properly evaluate the notice, leading to misunderstanding and responding to the supplier when it is not needed -- sometimes they even end up sending back a product that is perfectly fine and not affected by the recall at all. This mass-messaging platform causes more crossed wires than that old pair of headphones that have been sitting at the bottom of your backpack.


Suppliers are already sending multiple notices to the hospitals they believe have the recalled product and now broadcasters are taking that information and forwarding it along to more facilities in the hopes that if they have that product, they will be aware. These are well-intended actions, but with the number of medical recalls increasing each year it means confusion will also be on the rise. A study published in 2019 on Statista shows that from 2016 to 2017 an average of 58.19 million units were recalled per quarter, by 2018 the average had increased to 99.33 million units. For the safety of patients and staff, the medical recall industry needs a revamp with the rising number of recalls.

With all the advancements in technology that keep us constantly connected, we can envision a world where medical device suppliers and healthcare provider organizations are directly connected and the communications are 100% accurate, in real-time and completely free for health systems. Why should hospitals have to pay to learn about essential information that keeps their facilities and patients safe?


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