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Visible and invisible influence of the medical devices industry in hospitals

It is well-known that technicians employed by commercial companies are involved in the maintenance of working on medical devices in hospitals. Unclear, however, is what exactly they do, what their relation with care providers is and what their rights and duties are. They play an important role in the use and maintenance of the often cutting-edge devices used in hospitals. They give instructions, train staff in the use of the devices, and may also be directly involved in patient care. But scientific research into the activities of these technicians, and their relationship with medical staff has been limited, and has so far not been done in the Netherlands. This article explains the need for greater awareness among Dutch care providers and hospitals, regarding the moral issues of the collaboration with employees of commercial companies in the hospital. The main aim is cost-conscious, clinically relevant and safe use of devices, without conflicts of interest.

  • Technicians are employed in hospitals to assist doctors in the use of medical devices. The influence exercised by the medical devices industry on the costs and implementation of care often remains invisible and has hardly been investigated.
  • In some cases, doctors cannot use a medical device without the assistance of a technician. This may lead to undesirable gaps in the doctors’ knowledge regarding decisions about the need for, and use of, a device.
  • Research in hospitals in other countries than the Netherlands has shown that technicians working there may face moral dilemmas while carrying out their duties. It is unknown whether this is also the case in Dutch hospitals.
  • Hospitals have a duty to clearly define the relations between technicians and care providers, and the associated responsibilities, and to make these known to the care providers and patients involved. 

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The literature refers to the Dutch text


  • Sanne van der Heijden, MSc, pharmacist Stichting Geneesmiddelenbulletin, Utrecht