Alternate Parts and Supplies

January 1, 1996 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance


Every component in a medical device has some probability of failure. Often, this failure is expected--mechanical components of ventilators wear, x-ray tubes burn out--and sometimes failure is unexpected. In addition, many medical devices require continuing supplies of consumables--chart paper, infusion pump sets, or thermometer probe covers. Thus, there is a frequent need to buy parts and supplies for medical devices. The question is, "From whom?"

Most medical device venders (manufacturers and distributors) sell supplies and repair parts to hospitals. However, these supplies and parts may also be available, sometimes at a lower cost, from other sources--an "alternate parts supplier." (In some cases, the original device manufacturer will specify, but not supply, a replacement part; any other supplier of that part would be an alternate parts supplier.)

Hospital clinical engineering departments, independent businesses, and shared services are competing with manufacturers' service operations to provide better service at a lower cost. These service organizations are attracted to alternate parts suppliers by perceived cost savings, better...

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