Single-use devices form the majority of medical devices, tools, and equipment. Monitoring devices, scanners, and some bedside equipment like oxygen flowmeters are the types of tools you can expect to use time and time again – which makes sense, considering they’re notably more costly than single-use devices.
Single-use devices include cannulas, retractors, nasogastric tubes, and oropharyngeal airways – all of which are utilised daily by healthcare professionals. Below, we’ll look at why these single-use tools are still valuable for all healthcare settings.
Infection prevention is ingrained into the NHS and all wider healthcare settings. Governed by in-house infection prevention teams and external quality inspections by the likes of the CQC, hospital infection transmission rates are at an all-time low. Single-use medical devices and tools help reduce infection transmission rates by mitigating the risk of infection spreading through multiple patient contact devices.
Monitoring equipment, for example, has to be cleaned using Clinell wipes or other brands – if they aren’t cleaned properly by staff, the risk of infection transmission increases ten-fold. In theatre settings, you’ll find that most of the equipment is single-use because the risk of infection is that much higher. Medical retractors, tubing clamps, and even surgical gowns are typically single-use only devices and equipment.
It may seem like single-use devices and tools are costly, but in the long run, they’re more cost-effective. Reusable devices often require additional accessories and interventions that make them more costly. For example, the standard monitoring machine will have Sp02, ECG, and BP leads prone to breaking. They also need regular maintenance and cleaning to make them safe for multiple patient contacts.
Single-use devices don’t have the same issues. They come in sterile packaging and are disposed of once the healthcare professional has completed the task at hand. Plus, single-use devices can provide the same quality without the hassle of maintenance, calibration, and cleaning costs.
It’s no secret that the National Health Service is stretched to near breaking point – experiencing unprecedented staffing issues. Time-saving, therefore, becomes a necessity. To ensure reusable medical devices and tools are safe to use from patient to patient, it takes time to clean them. Single-use devices don’t have the same problem. It also takes time to fix reusable devices when they break and find suitable replacement devices; so that there isn’t a delay to patient care.
Single-use devices require minimal effort and preparation. It’s often as simple as opening the packet and getting on with the job at hand. Plus, more often than not, there’s what seems like an endless supply of single-use devices. Reusable devices can be hard to locate on a busy day, use, and fix when broken.
Single-use devices will always have a place in healthcare settings. They are the most effective way to reduce medical tool-related infection transmission rates – and infection transmission is one of the biggest focal points within healthcare settings. They’re easy to use, easy to dispose of, and easy to reorder when stock is running low.
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