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A new controversy in respiratory equipment management: reusables versus disposed disposables versus reused disposables



A new controversy in respiratory equipment management: reusables versus disposed disposables versus reused disposables



Respiratory Care 31(3): 213-217



On the topic of respiratory equipment management, few quantitative studies have been conducted to investigate the alternatives of reusables, disposed disposables, and reused disposables. The controversy involving disposed disposables versus reusables is based on four principal issues: quality of construction, safety in handling, infection control, and total cost. Because disposable devices have improved in quality and durability, the importance of the first two issues has dissipated. The infection control issue argues in favor of disposed disposables. The total cost issue is difficult to resolve, as many of the expense components are specific to each particular institution. Nevertheless, it appears that in high-usage situations, reusable equipment is more cost-effective than disposables and that at lower volume disposables are less costly than their reusable counterparts. The controversy over reusing disposables has an added legal dimension. The patient care provider can be held directly liable if a device meant to be disposable was reused and caused patient injury. Evidence is lacking in the respiratory care literature to support the contention that reusing disposables is less costly than the other options. Further, there are many patient safety issues that are currently unresolved. When care providers choose to reuse equipment intended to be disposable, they must be prepared to accept the same responsibilities as manufacturers. For life-support equipment, the potential risks associated with reusing disposables appear to outweigh the unproven benefits.

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Accession: 045079723

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PMID: 10315691


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