Originally Published MDDI November 2001
Medical Device Manufacturing Groups Address National Preparedness Issues
The tragic events of September 11 drew prompt responses from medical manufacturers, as well as from organizations representing the device industry. The Association for the Advacement of Medical Instrumentation, for example, notes that affected medical facilities received offers of equipment and supplies from healthcare facilities, equipment rental companies, and vendors across the country. Because most aircraft were grounded, supplies and equipment were transported by truck from as far away as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Dallas.
The federal government did permit an emergency shipment of a bioengineered skin substitute for treating burn victims. The Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) noted, however, that while the product was made available in New York City and Washington, DC, the company was unable to serve facilities in other parts of the country.
Industry associations have also attempted to identify a number of key issues they believe should be addressed in preparing for disasters of this nature and scale. While MDMA developed points to be considered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in planning for various contingencies, AdvaMed established a new council to assist federal agencies in responding to additional crises that may arise.
Recognizing the efforts made by member companies after the attacks, AdvaMed president Pamela G. Bailey announced that the group is following up with a sustained commitment to ensuring that healthcare needs can be met in times of natural disasters or military mobilization. AdvaMed's new Medical Technology Preparedness Council will help federal agencies ensure that the healthcare delivery system and the military are fully prepared to respond to crises.
Bailey said the Medical Technology Preparedness Council will include leaders from the medical technology industry with expertise in such areas as emergency care, supply-chain logistics, and science and technology development. Among the council's specific goals will be ensuring there is an adequate supply and distribution of needed medical technologies, including basic commodities and more advanced products—both domestically and to the military.
The council will work with federal officials to identify and address potential barriers that could impede distribution and access to needed medical technologies in emergencies. It will also work to foster development of new medical technologies to meet domestic and military trauma-care needs.
One week after the attacks, MDMA president Stephen Northrup sent a memorandum to HHS assessing the impact of the current crisis on its members and outlining recommendations for contingency planning. Northrup noted that member companies had been able to "keep products moving," although they had to curtail same-day and next-day deliveries because of government-imposed restrictions on cargo shipments on commercial flights from airports.
Northrup said an evaluation of emergency transportation mechanisms would be appropriate, and he identified a number of key issues that should be addressed in national emergency contingency planning. He also suggested that such plans allow for secure overnight air shipments of perishable and critical medical supplies in the event that passenger planes needed to be grounded, and that cargo space be provided on commercial passenger airlines for same-day deliveries.
Northrup also recommended that steps be taken to ensure that federal stockpiles of medical products include the latest critical trauma and emergency technologies and that these be located in logistically efficient locations for both air and ground transportation.
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