Thursday, November 14, 2019
Fraud and counterfeiting in medical supplies
I've been looking into emergency medical products to control bleeding, following my recent spell in hospital and subsequent developments. I've been very fortunate to have Kelly Grayson as a friend. He's not only a very experienced paramedic, he's won national awards in that field, and is about as knowledgeable as you can get as to what works and what doesn't. He's pointed me in the direction of what I need (tourniquets, larger hemostatic wound dressings, etc.), and I'm in the process of buying it now.
What's astonished me is the amount of fraud and counterfeiting going on in that field. There are certain types of tourniquet (CAT and SOF, the latter often referred to as SOF-T) that are ubiquitous in the field, and dominate the market. However, the number of knock-off copies of them is almost unbelievable. A quick read through customer reviews on Amazon.com shows a number of complaints that what they received is of poor quality or shoddy manufacture, broke in use, etc. I'm also told by some EMS personnel I know that what they order for use in their ambulances has to be carefully checked and re-checked, particularly when they order a resupply kit rather than individual items. A number have complained to me that the kits are often filled with the cheapest crap the supplier can find, rather than the "good stuff".
On that subject, I've been advised not to buy a pre-packed kit, because the price is often much higher than if I bought high-quality individual components and packaged them myself. It seems quality suppliers don't charge like that, but how does a non-expert such as myself know when a supplier is "quality", or less so?
I'm now going to equipment manufacturers' Web sites whenever possible, and getting my information straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. I'm also buying what I need direct from them when I can, because even if it costs a few dollars more, I'm guaranteed to get what I paid for, rather than a cheap knock-off product. I'm building four emergency bleeding control kits, one for each vehicle, one for our home, and one to put in a small "to-go" duffel bag that will be permanently packed, ready for our not infrequent trips. I thought that sort of care was excessive until a few days ago, when a very small wound took hours (and four dressings) to stop bleeding. A bigger wound, such as in an auto accident, might kill me rather quickly unless I can control the bleeding at once. These anticoagulant medications are sure effective, but also very worrying!
Across the medical supplies field, fraud and counterfeiting seem to be a growing problem. Another example is CPAP masks and components. Just look at how many customers complain that what they receive is a cheap copy, rather than the real thing, and doesn't work as well. I had no idea of how prevalent such copying was, but it seems there's big money to be made by the unscrupulous, and they're crowding in.
Anyway, I just thought I'd put this out there. If you buy or use emergency medical gear for any health problem, you might want to make sure you're getting what you pay for.