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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2010 Jul;213(4):302-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2010.04.003. Epub 2010 May 13.

What is the use? An international look at reuse of single-use medical devices.

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Hospital Hygiene, University Clinics of Essen, Hufelandstr. 55, 45122 Essen, Germany.


Reuse of single-use devices is common in most countries worldwide. We provide an overview of the issue from an international perspective. In many developing and transitional countries reuse of cheap single-use devices (needles, syringes, surgical gloves) is common leading to large numbers of unsafe interventions, specifically injections and, as a consequence, infection with hepatitis B, C or HIV. There are various reasons for reuse: limited resources, insufficient knowledge of healthcare workers and the belief of patients that injection is more beneficial than oral medication. Reuse of cheap single-use devices should cease and both medical staff and the public should be informed about potential safety risks associated with injection. In developed countries, reuse of single-use items is less common but may include expensive technical products. Reuse is regulated in many countries (e.g. US, Canada, some European countries) demanding ethical and legal considerations, high standards of reprocessing and training of staff, risk assessment, management and validation of reprocessing. Well regulated reprocessing can decrease the number of single-use devices reprocessed. In developing as well as developed countries, a decision to reprocess single-use devices should only be made after a critical reflection of advantages and disadvantages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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