Support grows for return of medtech reps to hospitals (MassDevice)

Twenty-six more medical and surgical societies and healthcare associations have endorsed guidelines for the safe return of medtech company representatives to healthcare facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance, released in May by AdvaMed, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) and the American Hospital Association (AHA), builds on the April 17 joint statement by AHA, AORN, the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Anesthesiologists on the resumption of elective surgeries.

The guidance outlines ways to support the collaboration between healthcare personnel and medtech representatives as healthcare facilities consider when and how to safely resume elective surgeries paused during the pandemic.

Several medical device companies, especially those in orthopedics, have suffered major drops in sales since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommended in March that healthcare providers postpone elective procedures until further notice to preserve personal protective equipment. The CMS decision followed one by the American College of Surgeons calling for hospitals to “minimize, postpone or cancel” elective procedures until the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak slows down.

The new guidance seeks to align access standards and processes across healthcare facilities, with principles and considerations rooted in guidance from the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA, and state and local authorities. It also meets the AdvaMed code of ethics, according to the trade organization.

The recommended framework calls for hospitals to be the primary provider of personal protective equipment (PPE), so healthcare providers have priority. It also allows company reps to provide their own PPE as a back-up for emergency procedures.

It also recommends against COVID-19 diagnostic testing of asymptomatic reps, so that diagnostic testing resources can be prioritized for patients, symptomatic health care workers and those with known or suspected exposures, consistent with CDC and other clinical guidelines.

“Too many patients are in pain, and have conditions that may have worsened over the past several months due to postponement of recommended non-emergent care,” said hospital association COO Michelle Hood in a news release. “Our guidance will help avoid further delays of essential care as health care providers take every precaution to ensure patient safety,”

“We’re seeing more and more hospital systems across the country announcing that now’s the time for patients to resume the essential care put on pause as a result of COVID-19,” added AdvaMed president and CEO Scott Whitaker. “The guidance we released with AORN and AHA will help make that happen safely and responsibly. Our hope is that it is encouraging to millions of patients across the country to see so many professional medical societies that stand ready to get them back to the care they need.”

“The expanded support for this guidance will facilitate resumption of health care procedures put on hold as a result of COVID-19, and the vital partnerships of nurses and medical device representatives in the provision of safe and effective patient care,” said Linda Groah, CEO and executive director of AORN. ” Our guidance seeks to align access standards and processes across facilities, so we welcome the sign-on of each stakeholder.”

The list of organizations that have signed on to the guidance can be found here, as can links to eight health systems’ statements on their readiness to resume scheduled services and procedures.