Big Hospital Supply Companies Put Profit over Safety

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Group Purchasing Organizations (GPO’s) are taking over the medical supply world and keeping safer products out of our hospitals. Retractable Technologies invented a syringe that retracts after use because the owner of the company Thomas Shaw, was tired of hearing about nurses who have contracted AIDS and other diseases from accidents with a used syringe while on the job . Becton Dickinson is a GPO that sells products in large quantity to hospitals all over the United States. They sell many products other than syringes, but use the deals they give on other products to secure hospitals into buying syringes from them as well. These syringes are not as safe and put nurses and other personnel at increased risk, however the hospitals stick with them because they are a Group Purchasing Organization. In doing so they will save money.

Big GPOs suffocate the smaller companies so they can keep hospitals purchasing most their medical needs through one organization. Controlling 70% of the syringe market, they over power the smaller Retractable Technologies.

In 1999 Shaw thought he had a breakthrough with Kaiser Permanente of California when they signed a one year contract for his syringes. One month later, Becton Dickinson announced a “unique” three-year, $30 million deal with Kaiser nationwide. Shaw then struggled to get his syringes into the Kaiser facilities, which ordered them from him, and they often sat un-used locked away in warehouses or trucks in the distributors parking lots. Kaiser spokesman Jim Anderson argues that if Shaw’s product didn’t make their way to hospitals it was because of “significant supply issues” on Retractable’s end. This was not the case. Shaw’s company had plenty of syringes made, and it was Becton Dickinson and Kaiser who kept the safer syringe out of the hospitals.

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Title: Dirty Medicine How medical supply behemoths stick it to the little guy, making America’s health care system more dangerous and expensive.

Publication: Washington Monthly

Date of Publication: September 18, 2010

Author: Mariah Blake

Evaluator: Registered Nurse, Kevin Coyle