The Portugese weekly newspaper Express reports that on May 30 of this year, the Portugese Ministry of Health issued an order allowing hospitals to reuse medical devices defined by the manufacturer as “single-use.”  Additionally, the order establishes appropriate safety conditions around the reuse of these devices, adding that the savings achieved would further provide innovative therapies and technologies.  According to Express, doctors and administrators applaud the initiative as the process for reuse costs 50% less than buying a new instrument.  All but one Portuguese hospital surveyed in the article indicated plans to move forward with regulated medical device reprocessing.

Portugal is now on the heels of the United States and Germany in terms of practical legislation on the matter, as well as Belgium and Sweden where reprocessing is also accepted.  The article depicts how in the United States, reprocessing is a “natural practice,” where the Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Stanford all take advantage of its benefits.

Citing reprocessing safety, among the reprocessed instruments tracked by administrators at The Hospital de São João in Lisbon, Portugal, the administrators have “never detected any problems or had complaints.”  Delfim Rodrigues, a hospital manager at the Hospital Center of Alto Ave depicted how the components of reprocessed devices “are reprocessed one by one” and thus are “less likely to come with defects” (contrary to what might happen during the  manufacturing process “which is done in mass”).

Regarding single-use labeling, Rodrigues further described that this is “something that is not regulated,” and Vanguard, a medical device manufacturer and reprocessor of medical devices in Europe said it is often the manufacturers who decide whether devices used in medicine are reusable, and particularly with invasive devices they have no interest in changing the single-use label.

A clinician who heads Ecotlon, a company that promotes reprocessing and its research, described that if all devices within the country took advantage of reprocessing, savings would equal 40 million euros per year.

AMDR would like to congratulate the Portugese Health Ministry as it empowers its hospitals to maintain the highest quality of care standards and reduce the costs associated with medical devices and waste.

You can read the article (in Portugese) from Express located here