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Injury. 2010 Feb;41(2):141-3. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2009.05.029. Epub 2009 Jun 30.

"No one has ever asked for it back!" A survey assessing the fate of reusable external fixation equipment in mortuaries.

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Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London E1 1BB, United Kingdom.


Technicians from one hundred and eighteen Human Tissue Authority (HTA) approved mortuaries licensed to perform post-mortems in England completed a telephone interview. All were questioned on whether they had contact with reusable external fixators, who was responsible for the removal, the number removed annually, and the destination of the fixator post-removal. Opinion was sought on how the return of the equipment could be better facilitated. Seventy-four of the technicians interviewed could remember seeing external fixation devices, but were unable to quantify how many were removed annually. Sixty-one of those questioned stated that they personally removed the fixator, three always requested an Orthopaedic surgeon to remove the device and five contacted a Nurse Specialist. Forty-eight stated that they returned the devices to their local Sterile Services Department or Orthopaedic department. Nine technicians always discarded the fixators, eight always left them with the body and two stored them in the mortuary. Many reusable external fixation devices are inappropriately disposed of each year due to a lack of knowledge and communication with Orthopaedic departments. Confusion also exists among some technicians over whether external fixation components should be treated as 'implants'. There is a need for clear guidelines to raise awareness and ensure the appropriate return of these high cost devices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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