What Happens to Medical Tools After Surgery?

Most people have an image of how surgery looks. A surgeon peers closely at an incision, asking for scalpels, forceps, suction and the like, but what happens to those tools after they’ve been used? If you’re ever been concerned about the safety of medical equipment used during surgery, read on to learn the facts.

One-Time Use

Most hospitals live by the motto that the more that gets thrown away, the safer everyone is. Mass production allows for many items to be used once and disposed of. Items like needles, bandages, gloves and gowns are all destroyed after a single use.

Third-Party Reprocessing

Some medical tools that used to be sterilized and used repeatedly are now considered single-use. Endoscopes, the flexible tool with a camera on the end that can be inserted down your esophagus and into your stomach is now considered single-use. Many of these single-use devices are extremely expensive and it is wasteful to throw them away. That’s where third-party companies that provide surgical product solutions Greenville SC, can reprocess items up to FDA standards, allowing hospitals to safely use equipment more than once. 

In-House Sterilization

On the other hand, many tools, like those metal scalpels and forceps, are made to be used over and over. Hospitals use autoclaves to sterilize these instruments. After they’ve been thoroughly washed they go through an autoclave which sterilizes using heat, pressure and time. An autoclave works by replacing all the air inside the locked chamber with superheated steam that kills microbes. This sterilizes instruments and glassware, but the autoclave can also be set to sterilize bedding and wrapped goods.

Even with the rise of recycling, hospitals always place immediate human safety above any other concern. They have safety protocols in place that ensure you’ll never come into contact with an instrument that is less than perfectly sterile.