Single use medical devices are popular due to ease of use, disposal, and perceived low risk of infection. However, these devices accumulate by the ton in landfills across the country, presenting an environmental health threat. This has necessitated reprocessing of single use devices (SUDs).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulatory requirements assure safety and effectiveness of SUDs. Reprocessed SUDs that meet FDA requirements can be considered safe for patient use and can effectively be treated as new devices. The reuse of SUDs began in the late 1970s. Medical progress has been accompanied by changes in technology and economic circumstances, resulting in more medical devices and leading to more solid waste.
ANA participates in this area by building key partnerships with other organizations and government agencies and sharing expertise on these subjects. Nurses must be aware of the benefit of reprocessing single use devices, but also be conscious about the occupational, environmental and ethical issues regarding reprocessed SUDs in order to make them a safe alternative for patients without compromising quality of patient care.