Reusable medical devices pose major risks if not cleaned properly

Many medical malpractice cases are filed against individual doctors or nurses who have committed major errors while caring for patients, but our Illinois hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the U.S. can also be held accountable for contributing to a doctor’s or nurse’s mistake. When our nation’s hospitals fail to have proper training programs, policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety and health of all patients, these facilities only allow more room for error and negligence to occur.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about two million patients who are hospitalized each year contract an infection while they are in the hospital. In addition to infection,hospital negligence can lead to numerous other illnesses and death.

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that hospitals risk harming patients when they fail to properly sanitize reusable medical devices. The FDA reported that these instances are rare, but hospitals and staff should always be aware of the importance of properly cleaning and storing these devices.

Patients may be fully aware that medical professionals cannot reuse certain medical devices in order to avoid transmitting illnesses and infections, but there are numerous other devices that are reused in hospitals every day. Some reusable devices include surgical forceps, endoscopes and stethoscopes. When hospitals do not have procedures in place to ensure that these devices are thoroughly disinfected and sterilized, the devices could transmit small amounts of blood, body fluids and tissue from other patients, potentially increasing another patient’s risk of developing an infection.

In December, the FDA reported that the agency created a new website for patients and medical professionals to remain educated about which devices are safe to reuse, as long as the devices are properly cleaned before treating each patient. The website also provides patients with information on how to report a problem if they suspect a hospital is failing to follow safety guidelines and regulations regarding reusable medical devices.

In addition, the agency encourages patients to ask their doctors and nursing staff questions about how the devices are cleaned and if they have done so in order to protect themselves from contracting a serious infection from a contaminated medical device.

Source: Medical Daily, “FDA: ‘Extremely Rare’ Infection Risk Exists With Reused Medical Devices,” Adam Daley, Dec. 28, 2011


Hospital Negligence

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