Breast implants receive barcodes in a bid to increase patient safety

12 Jan 2017

Breast implants and other medical items are set to receive barcodes in response to a new initiative by the Department of Health.

The initiative aims to improve patient safety and avoid future scandals like the Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) breast implant scare of 2010, which involved faulty silicone implants.

The new system is intended to record each medicine and implant given to patients by scanning the product packet and the patient’s identity wristband. The technology is intended to safeguard patients from harm in hospitals, reduce inefficiencies and improve patient experience.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, “This can actually save lives for the NHS; we have had a number of operations where the wrong implant is put into someone’s body and then that has to be changed at a later date. If we use modern barcode technology, we can deal with a lot of these problems.”

According to the Department of Health, by using the barcodes on medical items, anything that might develop a fault in the future including a breast implant, can be traced.

With this new system, medical staff in England will be able to use the barcodes for stocktaking and to see if any batches of medicine are reaching their use-by dates. In addition, surgeons will be able to monitor whether one type of implant is outperforming another in terms of wear and tear.

Consultant plastic surgeon, Mr Dalvi Humzah believes the new system will help improve data and insight of medicine distribution to patients, however he said, “I am sceptical about the relevancy of inputting barcodes on implants and the process this will require as the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry that opened in October 2016 adheres to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is adequate in capturing the details of breast implant procedures by both the NHS and private providers.” 

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