The following article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Outpatient Surgery Magazine
Published by Dan O’Connor, Editor-in-Chief
Once viewed as risky and rogue, reusing reprocessed single-use devices is now seen as a great way to spare landfills and OR supply budgets. It’s estimated that more than 9 million single-use devices —from opened and unused items to used arthroscopic shavers and trocars — are reprocessed each year and then repurchased by surgical facilities for around half the cost of new. Nearly two-thirds (64.8%) of the 268 surgical facility leaders Outpatient Surgery Magazine surveyed admit to reprocessing, even though their surgeons and their patients might not always approve.
If you can’t beat them, join them
Perhaps the surest sign that reprocessing is here to stay came last month, when Ethicon Endo-Surgery, one of the largest and most respected medical device companies in the world, bought SUD reprocessor SterilMed, a surprising move given Ethicon’s open disdain for medical device reprocessing. Ethicon was widely rumored to engineer “kill switches” in its Harmonic scalpels ($400 new, $150 to $200 reprocessed) to prevent them from working after they’d been reprocessed. In announcing its acquisition of SterilMed (which will retain its name), Ethicon acknowledged “the rapid changes occurring in the U.S. healthcare system” and called reprocessing “a rapidly growing market segment.” It also took a swipe at its new competitors…