Hospitals are able to reuse some of their equipment. Obviously very large machines like MRIs and x-rays are simply cleaned and sterlized between patients.
Metal instruments, like those used in surgery, and typically cleaned and then sterilized in an autoclave, which uses very high temperatures to kill any bacteria or other harmful compounds.
Things like needles and gloves are not reused because of the potential to spread diseases and infection.
Hospitals are seeking ways to recycle more traditionally single-use medical equipment like surgical gowns, towels, laparoscopic ports and cutting tools, the likes of which are the second leading source of waste in the United States.
Recycling more medical equipment could not only reduce waste, it would also mean millions of dollars saved by health care systems.
This is difficult to put into effect due to patients’ discomfort with reused equipment and lingering doubts that reprocessed devices may malfunction or be improperly sterilized. All reprocessed equipment sold, however, must be FDA approved and studies show that recycled medical equipment “does not present an increased health risk” to patients.
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