The rapidly growing market of medical equipment in the country has ushered in many challenges, exposing technology as a double-edge sword.

By Nada S Mussallam (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Sat 31 Dec 2005, 12:38 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:57 PM

Many now have doubts whether medical staff operating hi-tech devices are qualified enough for the job. There is also apprehension in some quarters that some staff operate the devices on the trial and error basis. Hailing from different backgrounds with diverse knowledge and practical experience in the medical fields, the 'cosmopolitan medical milieu' of doctors in this part of the world might increase risks of mechanical mismanagement of medical devices.

Those who spoke to Khaleej Times stressed that ongoing educational programmes should be organised for healthcare providers on a regular basis to ensure their efficacy.

Health officials, meanwhile, assured all those involved in handling medical devices receive educational training on the modifications of machines to avoid operational faults.

They said even local manufacturers have to meet strict registration norms, carry out post-marketing surveys and provide after sales service in order to prevent malfunction of equipment that might be hazardous to patients as well as doctors.

Ahmed H., an employee, opined: "Basically, it is a very sensitive issue as technology is rapidly modified and developing and the UAE is considered as one of hubs of modern technologies. There is need for constant training for all those involved in the process of handling medical devices. Concerned authorities should make sure healthcare providers have received adequate training before taking up any practical process."

M. Ibrahim, a private sector employee, said as these devices are highly sensitive, staff operating them should be cautious during operation.

"I think any such machine operator — be it a doctor, a nurse or any medical staff should remain cautious throughout the operation, otherwise it will be too late. If, God forbid, something went wrong, this life-saving device can be a deadly machine. Therefore, extra care should be taken. I believe some technicians are not fully aware of the modifications of the machines they are handling. This could have grave consequences for both patients and users."

He said medical equipment operators should receive continuous training as technology keeps changing by the hour.

"Operators should be sent abroad for training, especially to manufacturing countries. They should keep abreast with the latest technologies so that they would not lag behind," he said.

The medical device market in UAE is an import-dependent place that imports 90 per cent of its medical equipment and is anticipated to grow by 6.7 per cent annually.

There has been a rapid growth in infrastructure development, with the bed capacity in public hospitals in the UAE expected to double over the next 10 years to keep pace with growing technologies. Diagnostic services got a shot in the arm as laboratories have been provided with sophisticated equipment to conduct a wide range of tests.

Dr Abdul Kareem Al Zarouni, Director of the Central Curative Department at the Ministry of Health, said: "We don't operate equipment in our hospitals unless we make sure doctors and technicians are well trained to use them. Training medical cadres on the use of these machines is always part of the contract we conclude with importing companies. Either they send an expert to train our doctors or undertake training medical staff, in accordance with the agreed upon terms of the contract. Doctors are not allowed to touch any machine unless they were properly trained on the usage systems. They are provided with on-job continuous training as a fundamental requirement to keep them updated on recent approaches in the field of technologies. The ministry has also issued manuals on medical equipment available in the country to help medical cadres have easy access on classifications of these machines".

He reiterated under the ministry's new set of regulations, any technical or medical reason linked to the functionality of a device, will result in systematic recall of the devices by the manufacturers.

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