Buy cheap, buy twice

'Buy cheap, buy twice' is an old English proverb. In our rush to get the best bargain, our use of comparison websites or our drive to find value for money, it is something we tend to forget. People, we say, don't value something that is free. We may tell our patients: 'You get what you pay for' when explaining the cost of their private treatment.

These thoughts came to mind when I heard last week of a handpiece that 'exploded' in the mouth of a patient. Apparently it looked genuine, had a reputable makers name on it, but it was a fake bought off the internet, not from a reputable supplier.

The MHRA (Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has issued an alert concerning counterfeit devices as a result of this incident. They say that such products bought online could fail during use with the risk of injury to patient or user.

They advise dentists only to buy products from a legitimate manufacturer or supplier, to only use those that have a CE mark and to report suspect dental equipment to them. All good common sense advice, so why do some dentists not follow it? Why is the lure of a bargain so strong that some of us ignore the risk it might pose to our patients?

We may criticise those people who go as 'health tourists' to have treatment carried out in eastern Europe at a bargain price. But at the same time we may be sending our laboratory work to a cheap and cheerful place in China.

Its all rather illogical and may well, in the long run, damage our home-grown industry. If we expect our patients to recognise quality and the need to pay the price for it, then surely we owe it to them to do the same when we buy equipment and materials.

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