Solmed supplies many medical instruments and devices and some confusion exists as to what the labels mean if it says "Single Use" or "Single Patient Use". Many members ask us "Can we use this Instrument again?" In Australia we have strict laws governing the correct labelling of Medical Devices. This is governed and audited by the Therapeutic Goods Administration "TGA" Act. Legislation has been enacted to protect the patient where applicable.
Traditionally the expensive European Instruments were manufactured using high quality expensive Stainless Steel and they were designed for many uses after reprocessing through proper cleaning and sterilizing. Hospitals and Clinicians started to realise that many of these expensive instruments could not be cleaned properly and many clinical studies supported this. Over the last decade, manufacturing has changed to a lesser grade of stainless steel to produce instruments that were still good quality but at a tenth of the price of the European Versions. These instruments were designed to be cheaper and safer as a Hospital or Clinician could use it and then discard it. It was cheaper that the cost of reprocessing. It also meant safety for the patient by reducing potential Infection. Incidentally these stainless steel instruments can be recycled.
In a Clinical, Medical Centre or Hospital Setting: If a product is labelled "Single Use" then it should be used only once. If a product is labelled "Single Patient Use" then it can be used more than once on one patient only.
The TGA rules only apply to Clinical settings where they undertake reprocessing procedures of Instruments. It does not apply to Individuals who use these devices for their own use. You may be using a nebulizer which is labelled "Single Patient use", and then it is up to the individual how many times you use it. We do recommend cleaning any device after use. You may have Forceps or Scissors and want to reuse them, then as an individual then it is quite alright. If you are a Clinical Operation then you need to discard unless you have compliant autoclave facilities or sterile reprocessing options. If this is the case you then come under the legislation of being a manufacturer and strict penalties would apply if you were found not to have cleaned an instrument properly.
Purchasing these devices for use in a First Aid Kit for personnel use does not come under the legislation. Even if the device is past its sterility expiry date, the product is still sterile unless the package is open. If the package is opened that is still OK to use providing it hasn't been in touch with Blood, Tissue or Bodily Fluids.
The fact that these instruments may have been made using a lesser quality stainless steel, we submit that they are very good instruments as proven by their use in Hospital Settings, and providing they are clean, you can reuse many times. Remember though, that they will gradually wear down the more times you process them after heat stress. The cost of these devices is less than the reprocessing costs, so it makes sense to use them.
WARNING: Please make sure before you buy any Medical Device that it has a current ARTG Number which means it is listed with the TGA.