As a follow up to the New York Times piece on medical device reprocessing, Discovery News Daily reports that Medical E-Waste and Equipment Gets a Second Chance (07/07/10):

In order for medical equipment, such as imaging catheters, orthopedic drill bits and balloon inflation devices to be recycled, it has to be reprocessed, which involves cleaning, recalibrating, repackaging and resterilizing. Reprocessing can be done on many single-use, used and reusable devices.

Medical equipment producers have long questioned reprocessing, raising concerns about safety and the effect on the equipment’s performance. But Chen reports that Makary and his colleagues combed the medical literature for patients harmed by reprocessed equipment and didn’t find anything.

In addition, reprocessed equipment cost between 40 to 60 percent of what new ones would, which definitely helps in cash-strapped times. A quarter of American hospitals use reprocessed equipment. With the exception of medical equipment such as gloves which it is important to get things like nitrile exam gloves in bulk, due to the fact that medical gloves should not be worn after they have seen one patient or done one medical exam. Many things can be recycled saving hospitals money and the world from more wastage.