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FDA's Medical Device ID System Still Inactive

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, April 3, 2012

You would think that a 2007 federal law related to patient safety would be implemented five years later.

You'd be wrong.

The law in question will give hospitals unique identifiers for every medical device that's in their inventory or in use with patients. It's the kind of identifier you can find today on just about any appliance you buy at Wal-Mart.

Such IDs are commonplace at the retailing behemoth, in everything from bread makers to rice cookers, because of the enormous clout the retail giant wields. The Wal-Mart effect also ensures that much other retail merchandise is similarly labeled.

The fractured healthcare and hospital industry thought it had summoned a similar amount of clout in 2007 with passage of the Medical Device User Fee and Modernization Act (MDUFMA). Yes, it's the same act that gave us the "medical device tax" so reviled by the medical device industry.

Well, here's a memo to the medical device industry: If the medical device tax is so onerous, you need more allies to fight it. And you won't make those allies the way you're fighting implementation of the unique identifier provisions of MDUFMA.

That's the view of Blair Childs, senior vice president of Premier, a performance improvement alliance of more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals and 81,000-plus other healthcare sites.

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