Should You Keep Sales Reps Out of the OR?

Joe Cantlupe, October 31, 2013

The non-profit ECRI Institute suggests that "hospitals should be diligent about the presence of anyone who isn't a staff member in the OR because of potential risk management concerns."

This article appears in the October issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

They stand alongside the physicians and nurses. Like the medical professionals, they scrub in and wear masks before entering the operating room, where they check out the nuts, screws, braces, and other orthopedic devices.

They stand alongside the physicians and nurses. Like the medical professionals, they scrub in and wear masks before entering the operating room, where they check out the nuts, screws, braces, and other orthopedic devices. They are medical device sales reps.

Having sales representatives in the OR is a common practice, even though some healthcare leaders say it is an unwelcome presence.

"Vendors go in and tell about a new item; it's an angle they are going to take," says Larry Kennedy, CMRP, the materials management director of Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, Ark. He says it's obvious some reps are trying to influence sales. "That's their job. But we don't allow them to push products in the OR or cath lab. We make them schedule a meeting with us."

The ECRI Institute, a nonprofit based in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., that researches cost-effectiveness in patient care, said in a July report this year that while hospitals generally do not allow "outsiders" in the OR, exceptions are "frequently made" for medical device sales representatives. That especially occurs when the sales reps can provide "assistance with a particular device."

As ECRI notes, however, "hospitals should be diligent about the presence of anyone who isn't a staff member in the OR because of potential risk management concerns and should establish policies to oversee sales representatives involved with devices."

Joe Cantlupe Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.Twitter
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