Compression sleeves and pulse oximeters are at the top of the list, but there are more. Companies buy the used devices, clean then, and then resell the products back to the hospitals. It is one way of keeping down the amount of medical devices that go to landfills. Now many of these items though are ones that have been designed for single use too. There are durable alternatives but when things get tough, here’s more cut backs.
Obviously there’s some equipment that is an absolute no for re-using, but the companies doing the cleaning are inspected from time to time by the FDA so it’s a recognized business. We all see the stories from 3rd world countries where they are in fact using equipment that is not for this purpose. The University of Maryland has been saving quite a bit of money over the years with this practice. Even with equipment that is made to be re-used like the devices used for colonoscopies have issues though as we saw last year too.
With the constant battle with hospital acquired infections, I think this is an area to keep a close watch on and make sure the devices are getting properly cleaned before re-use. BD
In a bid to reduce waste and control costs, a growing number of U.S. hospitals are now cleaning and reusing tools such as compression sleeves, laparoscopic ports, and other medical and surgical items labeled for one-time use.
Hospital administrators had been behind the move, called reprocessing, but more recently it's been fueled by environmentally minded workers looking to change the health care industry's status as one of the largest contributors to the nation's landfills. Tons of equipment are tossed every year after being used once, according to some participating hospitals.
But Michael Bennett, president of the Coalition for Patients' Rights in Maryland, said hospitals shouldn't take chances with reprocessing. If they want to reuse equipment, they should find vendors that will sell them durable equipment, rather than items labeled for single use, he said.
The devices became increasingly sophisticated and costly, pushing hospitals back in the other direction, he said. That FDA regulation also led nearly all hospitals to send the equipment to third-party reprocessors, who sell items back to hospitals for about half the cost of new ones.