a growing number of u.s. hospitals, including at least eight in the washington area, are saving money by reusing medical devices designated for one-time use, ignoring the warnings of manufacturers, which will not vouch for the safety of their reconditioned products.
hospitals are not required to tell patients that reconditioned devices will be used in surgery -- surgeons themselves often do not know. the food and drug administration regulates the practice, and many hospital administrators say reusing single-use devices is not only cost effective but also poses no threat to patients because the instruments are cleaned with such care that they are as good as new.
[color=#333333]washington post staff writer alec klein describes the steps hospital personnel use in handling reused single-use cardiac catheters during a procedure at the christ hospital in cincinnati.
good as new? | the reuse of medical devices
[color=#0c4790]the consequences of cuts
the cause of tony clowes's death was "irreversible cerebral anoxia," oxygen starvation of the brain, according to hospital records. his parents believe their son was the victim of cost cutting.
here is an example of how a single-use medical device travels from a hospital to the reprocessing center and then back again.
monday, 1 p.m. et
washington post staff writer alec klein will be online to discuss his series of articles on the reuse of single-use medical devices.
- if patients want to know whether a refurbished single-use medical device will be used on them, hospitals suggest that they ask the doctor who is performing the procedure.
- hospitals that use reprocessed devices say that they are safe and that the fda regulates the practice. they are under no obligation to agree to a patient's request to not reuse a single-use device. no federal regulations or laws require such patient consent.
but single-use devices have malfunctioned during reuse, federal records and interviews show. in one instance, an electrode from a catheter broke off in a patient's heart. in another, a patient's eyeball was impaled. and an infant who for months gagged and retched on a resterilized tracheal tube now can take food only from a tube attached to his stomach.