CJD/Outrageous - Not All
Single-Use Medical Instruments
Used Only Once
Note - I ran a story similar to this about a year ago.
This constitutes an egregious, criminal betrayal of public trust...
especially in light of the now well-known issues of nvCJD
transmission. This practice must be outlawed and stopped.
Immediately. - Jeff Rense
By Michael Woods - The Toledo Blade
That surgical saw blade, drill, stapler, scissors and forceps were all sold in packages clearly labeled as single-use devices. That means the manufacturer designed the device as a throwaway. Use on one patient, and then discard.
So was the surgical gown, elastic bandage, the catheter used for balloon angioplasty, the mask used for anesthesia, and plenty of other common medical equipment used in hospitals and doctors' offices.
How many times has that "nonreusable" medical device actually been reused? Is a balloon angioplasty catheter, used to treat blockages in coronary arteries, just as flexible, safe and effective the second time around? Or the third?
Does your kid care if those metal braces had a previous home in a mouth or two before they were glued to her teeth? After all, everything has been carefully sterilized. But will the metal in those used braces be more likely to break in the middle of a vacation or another inconvenient time?
Patients should be asking those questions because disposable medical devices are reused all the time. In addition, nobody knows how well devices made for one use stand up to repeated use.
The practice of reprocessing and reusing "single-use devices" has become common during the last few years. A 2000 congressional study concluded that at least one-third of American hospitals reuse some disposable medical devices. Experts believe the trend is growing.
Cost-cutting efforts are one factor. A hospital or clinic can save money by reusing disposable medical devices. Sales of these devices totaled $56 billion in 1999. Use a disposable umbilical scissors to cut the cord on one newborn baby, for instance, and pay full price. Use it on two newborns, and the hospital's costs drop by 50 percent.
Advances in plastics and other materials used to make the 80,000 to 100,000 different kinds and brands of medical devices are another factor. Single-use devices are made from sturdier materials, and it seems reasonable that such material can be reprocessed and safely reused.
However, few studies have been done to verify that belief.
In order to get U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to sell a single-use device, manufacturers must prove only that it is safe and effective for one use. Manufacturers need not do studies proving that the device can be reprocessed and used multiple times just as safely and effectively as the first.
Reprocessing usually means that the device is carefully cleaned, inspected, refurbished and sterilized before use on the next patient. Some hospitals reprocess single-use devices themselves. Others send used devices to companies that reprocess them.
Cleaning and sterilizing medical devices made for one-time use may be more difficult than sterilizing devices manufactured for multiple use, according to the FDA.
FDA studies identified several theoretical problems with reused medical devices. These include possible increased risk of infection if devices are not properly sterilized before reuse, possible increased risk of failure in orthodontic products, possible loss of elasticity and durability in balloon catheter devices and possible loss of original lubricants.
Studies, however, find little evidence of widespread health problems from recycling single-use devices.
Only 245 "adverse events" were linked to reuse of such devices during the last three years of the 1990s, according to the FDA. Manufacturers reported seven patient deaths, 72 injuries and 147 device malfunctions.
The FDA in August, however, decided on stricter regulation and monitoring of single-use-device reprocessing by third-party companies and hospitals. It hinted that more regulation may be on the horizon.
Patients may want to talk with their doctors about recycled medical devices before undergoing procedures and ask, too, whether such devices could have been a factor if a procedure goes bad.

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