The Easiest Way for ASCs to Save Today: Sterile Reprocessing Single-Use Devices

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Charles Dailey 2Sterile reprocessing for single-use devices is becoming more common among healthcare providers, including ambulatory surgery centers.

Since the Food and Drug Administration issued a statement supporting sterile reprocessing following their regulatory requirements in 2006, many ASCs around the country have taken advantage of these waste-reduction and cost saving programs.

Two major players in the market include MEDISISS and Stryker Sustainability Solutions, both of which ASD Management uses in its centers. "These companies receive the used devices, reprocess them and repurpose them to a safe, like-new condition," says Vice President, Business Development at ASD Management Charles Dailey. "There are high quality controls to support their sterility. Then the devices are returned with a very fast turnaround."

ASD Management uses the reprocessing program primarily for orthopedics, but also with gynecology, otolaryngology and ophthalmology specialties. The devices reprocessed devices include:

•    Orthopedics — ablation wands, arthroscopic shavers, drill bits, burrs, blades, trocars, cannulas, reamers and needles;

•    Gynecology — laparoscopic trocars and cannulas, harmonic scalpels and hot and cold biopsy forceps;

•    Otolaryngology — coblation instruments, adenoid blades and shavers;

•    Ophthalmology — phaco tips

"Reprocessing can generate substantial savings," says Mr. Dailey. "One of our facilities in Florida saved $38,000 in 2013 just from their reprocessing program. A second reason to consider reprocessing is the environmental contributions. Reprocessing prevents thousands of tons of medical waste nationwide each year."

Oftentimes a product is accidentally opened and not used or sits on the materials shelf too long and expires; reprocessing allows the ASC to recoup what would have been thrown out.

"The reprocessing companies guarantee the facilities receive back a device that is just as effective as a new one, but at a lower cost," says Mr. Dailey. "Some physicians might have pushed back in the old days because negative attention was placed on reprocessing, but today's technology truly refurbishes the devices and they are as effective and as sterile as they need to be."

Since the FDA's statement of support, several physicians have made written statements supporting reprocessing, and associations like the American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association and the Association periOperative Registered Nurses have policies supporting the process.

"When we have a handful of physicians supporting reprocessing efforts, we are able to establish a program," says Mr. Dailey. "We reach out to the vendor of choice and they'll provide education for our surgeons and staff. They explain the collection protocol and how centers can send the used products off properly. Then they'll follow up with the facility on the timeline of the process."

For the most part, physician owners working with Mr. Dailey approached the subject with an open mind for generating savings. "We have good conversations with the surgeons, especially the ones that have concerns," he says. "I will provide them with the FDA statement and other endorsements of reprocessing and they'll usually support it."

Implementing a sterile reprocessing program at ASCs doesn't require much change from the current process at ASCs, and many have found the transition easy.

"There might be an extra step in there to collect the products and ship them off, but the financial impact outweighs that," says Mr. Dailey. "I see more people becoming excited about reprocessing and using it as a tool to decrease waste. Management companies are embracing reprocessing and promoting it among their facilities. In this day and age in healthcare, we have to be more proactive in looking at ways to provide quality healthcare while reducing costs."

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