Blending Technology and Teamwork for Successful Management of Product Recalls
ABSTRACT Patient safety programs have been developed in many hospitals to reduce the risk of harm to patients. Proactive, real-time, and retrospective risk-reduction strategies should be implemented in hospitals, but patient safety leaders should also be cognizant of the risks associated with thousands of products that enter the hospital through the supply chain. A growing number of recalls and alerts related to these products are received by health care facilities each year, through a recall process that is fraught with challenges. Despite the best efforts of health care providers, weaknesses and gaps in the process lead to delays, fragmentation, and disruptions, thus extending the number of days patients may be at risk from potentially faulty or misused products. To address these concerns, Duke Medicine, which comprises an academic medical center, two community hospitals, outlying clinics, physicians' offices, and home health and hospice, implemented a Web-based recall management system. Within three months, the time required to receive, deliver, and close alerts decreased from 43 days to 2.74 days. To maximize the effectiveness of the recall management process, a team of senior Duke Medicine leaders was established to evaluate the impact of product recalls and alerts on patient safety, to evaluate response action plans, and to provide oversight of patient and provider communication strategies. Alerts are now communicated more effectively and responded to in a more consistent and global manner. This comprehensive approach to product recalls is a critical component of a broader Duke Medicine strategy to improve patient safety.