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Proper Device Reprocessing Is Key for Patient Safety

Providers and health care facilities are being alerted to properly maintain, clean, disinfect, and sterilize reusable medical devices in a recent health advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agencies emphasize the need to comply with all steps recommended by device manufacturers and have in place policies and procedures consistent with current standards and guidelines.

The health advisory highlights that noncompliance with recommended reprocessing procedures creates a gap in patient safety. The agencies state that recent media reports tell of patients being notified and offered testing for bloodborne pathogens due to such lapses in reprocessing procedures. Providers should review the following recommendations to ensure reprocessing is done correctly:

  • training, at least yearly, for all personnel who reprocess medical devices, with demonstrated competency in reprocessing technique
  • auditing for adherence to reprocessing steps in all areas of the facility where reprocessing occurs, with feedback to personnel regarding their adherence
  • adequate timing for reprocessing to ensure adherence to all steps outlined in a facility’s infection control policies and procedures

Additional information, with examples of relevant guidance, is included in CDC’s Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities.

Contact Erin O’Malley, director of policy, at or 202.585.0127 with questions.




About the Author

Maryellen Guinan is a principal policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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