How the U.K. Is Making Breast Implants Safer Than Ever

Companies in the U.K. are now providing barcodes on breast implants, hip replacements and other surgical tools to help prevent scares like the PIP silicone scandal from happening.

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Poly Implant Prothése—or PIP— was a breast implant manufacturing company that was caught making fraudulent breast implants out of cheaper industrial-grade silicone. According to BBC, 400,000 women received PIP implants and 4,000 of those reportedly ruptured. This created a fear in the health community.

But now, U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) is providing barcodes on implants and other medical supplies. And Britain’s Department of Health announced a “Scan4Safety” initiative that will see to it that these codes are put on.

With the codes on medical supplies and patient wristbands, medical professionals will be able to see who administered the treatment, and where and when it was done. The government claims this will help to rid harms in hospitals such as errors like administering the wrong drugs or a surgery being performed on the wrong part of the body

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“By using barcodes, anything that might develop a fault years later, for example a screw used in a knee operation or breast implant, can be traced,” a statement from the U.K. government says. “The details, such as when it was used and the surgeon who carried out the procedure, can be found quickly and easily.” So, if there's a recall on any of the hardware, patients can be tracked down and informed immediately. 

This £12 million operation is already proving effective. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt claims that early results from six pilot projects show a potential to save lives and £1 billion for the NHS over seven years.

While this system is not a part of the U.S. medical scene yet, we’re staying hopeful that it'll cross the pond to our plastic surgery industry as well.

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