It is important that suppliers of medical devices and their representatives act in an ethical manner. In particular, nothing they do should risk ethical criticism being directed at their customers. The SDMA Code of Practice is designed to help ensure that products are always promoted to healthcare professionals in a correct and ethical manner.
All SDMA member companies have agreed as a condition of membership to fully comply with the SDMA Code of Practice. The code was first introduced in 2000 and has been regularly revised to ensure it is kept fully up to date. It is actively policed by members and all complaints are judged by an independent expert panel. Over the years it has gained a high level of awareness and, hopefully, a degree of respect.
The Code of Practice fits in well with the aims and objectives of the SDMA, which is dedicated to encouraging and expanding the safe and effective use of wound management and associated products – including wound dressings, orthopaedic casting, bandaging, compression garments, single-use surgical instruments, retail plasters, and much more.
It specifically covers the promotion of these products in the United Kingdom to the professional medical market where the decision maker could be a health professional (e.g. surgeon, doctor, hospital nurse, community nurse, pharmacist, dentist, chiropodist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist), a health product buyer, a supplier or a distributor. Finally, it provides a route for complaints to be made if actions ever fall below the required standard.
The latest version of the SDMA Code of Practice can be found on our website: www.dressings.org.uk.
The SDMA has developed a training package aimed at giving all member employees, and especially company representatives, a detailed appreciation of the Code. This is designed to be used by training managers or for home study, and is always kept up-to-date with the latest version of the Code. As well as being a detailed introduction to the Code it also acts as a detailed description of correct ethical behaviour. The SDMA Code of Practice not only needs to exist, but needs to be fully understood and used by all member companies.
The training packages were also developed to provide NHS and private medical organisations with some confidence the member company representatives should have an appreciation of correct ethical behaviour.
The SDMA representative accreditation scheme forms part of the well-accepted MIA system and is a logical extension to the training packages. This scheme allows medical representatives to demonstrate they have successfully completed an accredited training course, and passed an examination, qualifying them to properly promote wound management and associated products to healthcare professionals.
The MIA scheme also provides a means for NHS and private healthcare organisations to quickly and securely check the credentials offered by representatives– thus providing a level of certainty. If a representative has a valid accreditation then they will have passed an examination in ethical behaviour conducted by well-known training organisation (Wellards).
There is a clear benefit for patients and clinicians – with a greater certainty that products will be properly promoted and will perform as claimed. Clinicians should also appreciate representatives having a clear understanding of their products and a proper technical understanding of how they would be used.
There are also many obvious benefits for member companies and field-based staff – not the least that sales promotion will be conducted in an ethical, polite and effective manner. Importantly, they will also avoid actions that might place customers at risk of ethical criticism.
The MIA scheme itself can provide an additional level for surety, being supported not just by the SDMA but also by ABHI, Barema, OPTIC, AfPP and the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland.