The Ongoing Crisis in Medical Device Education for Healthcare Professionals: Breaking the Vicious Circle Through Online Learning

The Ongoing Crisis in Medical Device Education for Healthcare Professionals: Breaking the Vicious Circle Through Online Learning

Carmel J. Caruana
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/ijrqeh.2012040103
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A well-documented issue in healthcare is the unsatisfactory level of competence in the effective and safe use of medical devices among practicing healthcare professionals. The roots of the problem lie in the fact that medical devices are developing at a much faster rate than the requisite educational provision. As a result, undergraduate healthcare students carry out their medical device training under the supervision of practitioners-trainers who are themselves not sufficiently competent, creating a vicious circle where lack of competence breeds further incompetence. This circle can only be broken if the practitioner-trainers themselves are educated. However, owing to clinical workload the latter often cannot attend face-to-face educational programs. The problem can be resolved through online learning. This article expounds on the issue and describes an online programme by which the present author is attempting to address the problem.
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Medical Devices

Medical devices are defined in EU legislation as: “any instrument, apparatus, appliance, material or other article, whether used alone or in combination, including the software necessary for its proper application intended by the manufacturer to be used for human beings for the purpose of:

  • Diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of disease,

  • Diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, alleviation of or compensation for an injury or handicap,

  • Investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process,

  • Control of conception,

and which does not achieve its principal intended action in or on the human body by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means, but which may be assisted in its function by such means” (EC, 1993). Medical devices also include in vitro medical devices which are defined as “any device which is a reagent, reagent product, kit, instrument, equipment or system, whether used alone or in combination, intended by the manufacturer to be used in vitro for the examination of samples derived from the human body with a view to providing information on the physiological state, state of health or disease, or congenital abnormality thereof” (EC, 1998).

Some familiar examples are anaesthetic machines, CT scanner, dental instruments, dressings, endoscopes, examination gloves, intravenous administration sets and pumps, pacemakers, artificial hearts, surgical instruments, syringes and needles, ultrasound imaging equipment, urinary catheters, defibrillators, patient monitors, blood glucose measuring devices, cholesterol test kits, pregnancy test kits, adjustable beds, patient transfer equipment, hearing aids, prescribable footwear, walking aids, wheelchairs, contact lenses, cholesterol test kits, pregnancy test kits, and thermometers. Indeed, the number of different medical devices presently in clinical use runs into thousands. There is a range of complexity and in general the higher the complexity of the device and the higher the number of user options the steeper the learning curve.

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