Single Use Instruments – Medical Industry Standard

01/08/2013 15:42

Why does the doctor wear single use gloves during medical inspection? Why does the medical staff wear disposable textile in the surgery room? To prevent cross infection and avoid contamination.

Using Single Use instruments is the equivalent of wearing single use textile. So why are reusable instruments the standard in the medical industry? 

What do we ask before surgery?

Imagine the following scenario - You have to get medical care, and you go to the emergency room. You get admitted, and surgery is set in two days. You meet the doctor in charge of the surgery, and it is questions time. You ask about how long the surgery will be, how long the recovery will be, and probably about the complications. The answers you get are satisfying, but there is one thing you haven't asked - What are the risks for cross infection? What are the odds the surgery will be successful, but later on you will get an infection due to the infection? An infection can be passed to you by the instruments, the surrounding and maybe even the doctors. 

As many patients, chances are that you are not aware of cross contamination hazards. Moreover, chances are that the doctors themselves are not aware of this potential hazard which may put their work to risk - even if they are the best in their field. Although it is not the patient's responsibility to check the staff and the equipment, sometimes the demand can be raised from the patients themselves and influence the doctors' choice. 

What is the standard today?

The standard medical requirement is to wear disposable gloves, apron, and cover up in single use textile. While we ask for the doctors to wash up, and wear single use textile, the instruments are reusable. They do not have covers, they are not thrown away after the surgery, they get sterilized and sent to the next procedure. This is a major hazard for cross infection.

If the doctors are aware of this hazard, the extra attention can reduce the risks of cross infection. In most cases it does not depend only on the doctors, but they definitely have a say in this matter. 

Why should Single Use instruments be the standard in the medical industry?

Single Use instruments should be the standard in the industry. If the patients care about their health, and the medical industry cares about the patient, the standard to be adopted is Single Use instruments. In several researches done in past years, sterilization processes have shown to be ineffective in many cases. In one research, the sterilization process for reusing instruments has failed in 58% of the instruments sterilized. While this is a rather high number, and other studies show less failure than that, the hazard should be advised to all factors in the medical industry.

Awareness is the key!

The awareness for cross contamination and the hazards in sterilizing reusable instruments has to be raised. While the costs of the reusable instruments are lower, the medical industry is about the health of the patients, not costs. The main concern should be the safety and recovery of the patient, even at a higher cost. As the saying goes – “you can’t put a price on good health”.


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