(WASHINGTON) — Having any medical procedure can cause anxiety for patients. But should they worry about the cleanliness of reused medical tools? Some medical instruments are used many times over in routine surgical procedures.
Devices such as clamps and forceps are reused repeatedly in surgery, as are endoscopes, which allow doctors to see inside the body during exploratory procedures such as colonoscopies. These devices get “reprocessed” or high-level cleaning, disinfection and sterilization.
But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there have been occasions where patients have been exposed to blood, body fluids and tissue from other people on reusable devices that were not adequately reprocessed. While instances of infections being transmitted were rare, the potential for infection is there.
Now the FDA is working with health care providers, manufacturers and other agencies to set standards for reprocessing, to make sure the maker’s directions for disinfecting and sterilizing are clear and that hospital staff follow those instructions.
For now, however, the FDA says there’s no need to cancel or reschedule your medical procedure.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Jennifer Graham, Deseret News
Debbie Bryce, Idaho State Journal
Sarah Stewart, KFOR
Michael H. O'Donnell, Idaho State Journal