The experienced medical malpractice lawyers of Reiff & Bily understand that safety should always be a top priority for physicians and medical organizations. Whether you are receiving medical services at a doctor’s office, a clinic, a hospital, hospice, managed care facility or another medical facility, safety, and medical needs should always come before profits. While most hospitals and medical professionals place patient health and safety first, some individuals and organizations may try to boost profits or minimize work by taking short-cuts. These short-cuts may include reusing single-use medical devices or failing to sterilize or properly prepare multiple-use medical devices.
If you have suffered a serious injury due to the improper reuse of a medical device, the medical malpractice lawyers of Reiff & Bily may be able to fight to obtain compensation for you. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation, call our Philadelphia law office at (215) 274-0072.
Single-Use Medical Devices Should Never Be Re-Used
Many medical instruments and surgical instruments are marked “single use only.” The introduction of single-use surgical instruments for dental and minor surgical procedures derives from the enforcement of policies to ensure patient safety and infection control. When used properly, single-use medical devices can decrease an individual’s risk for infection and other medical complications. This is because certain bacterial and other contaminations were found to be able to survive normal sterilization processes. Combined with the fact that many people can carry infections without exhibiting any outward symptom, it is difficult if not impossible to determine which medical devices or implements should be subject to more rigorous sterilization procedures.
Thus, single-use medical devices were developed to avoid the uncertainty and potential cross-contamination that can occur with traditional implements and devices. However, some medical providers may ignore or otherwise discount labeling indicating that the device should not be reused and should be disposed of as clinical waste. When medical devices and implements are reused improperly, the risks of injury through cross contamination increase significantly.
Injuries From The Reuse Of Single-Use Medical Devices
While the majority of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals strictly adhere to safety guidelines, there remain some healthcare facilities and hospitals that do not. In one instance a clinic reprocessed single-use only medical instruments using only a detergent scrub and minimal sterilization techniques. This improper sterilization and re-use potentially exposed patients to dangerous, potentially fatal, blood-borne infections such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and others.
In another instance, our law firm was retained to represent the interests of a previously healthy individual who had undergone a routine prostate biopsy. During the procedure, a single-use surgical instrument was reused. Because the device was not designed for the stress of multiple uses, fractured while the device was still inside of the patient. The patient suffered severe injuries due to the re-use of this medical implement. Damages recovered for the client included the injuries caused by the re-use of the single-use device, lost wages, and punitive damages.
Why do Facilities Re-Use Single-Use Medical Devices?
Most single-use medical devices are so inexpensive grave risk of harm is never justified by the minor cost savings or convenience of reusing a single-use device. This type of conduct by a trusted physician or nurse is completely unjustified and falls far outside the accepted medical standard of care. Thus, the question remains as to why medical professionals place so much on the line and misuse single-use implements and devices. Reasons may include:
- A lack of awareness of the risk.
- The belief that “it can’t happen to my patient.”
- A belief that risks are overstated.
- A failure to update medical knowledge and training.
- A general lack of concern for patient safety.
- The convenience of the medical professional.
- A medical professional who cuts corners because he or she is seeing too many patients.
There is simply no good reason to use these devices in a way other than their intended use. When medical professionals fail to respect single-use labeling on medical devices and implements, the risk of infection or other injury increases dramatically.
Our Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help
Our experienced Pennsylvania surgical and medical malpractice lawyers steadfastly believe that such practice is unacceptable. For more than 36 years, the lawyers of Reiff & Bily have fought to hold reckless and negligent individuals responsible for the injuries hey can inflict. Our goal is to protect patient safety by sending a message to healthcare professionals: The safety of the patient should always be the top priority of surgeons and physician and any action that jeopardizes that goal is unacceptable.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical or surgical malpractice and would like to speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, please feel free to contact the lawyers of Reiff & Bily toll-free at (215) 274-0072.