Medical trash

excerpt below is from an article by Infei Chen in the New York Times

…Until fairly recently, most medical devices — made from durable metal, glass or rubber — could be disinfected for countless reuses. In the 1980s, however, the health care industry began shifting to single-use versions, often made from inexpensive plastics, partly because the emerging H.I.V. epidemic raised fears about the risks of recycling equipment.

Although it soon became clear that sterilization techniques readily killed the virus, the trend toward disposables kept growing. At Hopkins, Dr. Makary noticed more and more of his permanently reusable surgical tools being replaced by throwaways. It was, he said, a way “for the industry to make more money.”

Some single-use devices can be reused after reprocessing, but a decade ago there was great consternation that inadequately decontaminated products might cause infections. Or that cleaning and sterilization might erode their less durable components, leading to malfunction.

Original-equipment makers and their trade group, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, warned that it was unsafe to recycle devices designed to be used only once. But since 2000, the Food and Drug Administration has taken steps to require that reprocessing companies meet the same stringent regulations for their products that original-device makers do.

But lingering safety concerns slowed the adoption of reprocessing. To investigate those fears, Gifty Kwakye, then a graduate student at Hopkins, worked with Dr. Makary and a colleague, Dr. Peter J. Pronovost, in combing the medical literature for evidence that patients were harmed by recycled devices.

They found none…

much more via In World of Thowaways


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