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Opinion on reusing medical equipment: “Clean and green” initiatives

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2013 | Medication Errors

As one doctor — an infectious-disease specialist in New York City — queried recently in his capacity as a media commentator on national health care, what reasonable person would ever argue over a uniform approach to injections that centrally incorporates the notion “one needle, one syringe, only one time”?

Tragic outbreaks of diseases such as meningitis and hepatitis in recent months and years, including in New Jersey, make clear the notion, says Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, that reused needles and medicine vials pack a veritable punch of evil. Sepkowitz solidly endorses a recent initiative announced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention entitled the One and Only Campaign that aims at eliminating the improper reuse of medical devices and equipment.

The motivation for that endorsement is certainly clear: The CDC states that, through acts of medical malpractice and hospital negligence, more than 100,000 people over the past decade have been exposed to dangerous infections and serious injury from reused needles and medicine vials. It is hard to think of a more serious medication error.

One other major health care initiative also merits mention, notes Sepkowitz, namely, green health care, which Sepkowitz says is driven by “a serious and longsighted group” that worries over the tremendous amount of medical waste that is being generated in the medical industry through the practice of once-and-done. The “green” group does not advocate reusing needles, but its advocates do push for recycling and reintroducing medical equipment whenever possible.

Sepkowitz says that the two initiatives — what he terms the “clean and green” — will ultimately near a collision course, notwithstanding that both of them are geared toward health safety. The list of medical items currently being recycled and reused is not particularly extensive, but it is progressively being added to. As it grows, Sepkowitz notes that there will be “no margin for error.”

Source: Newsweek Magazine, “Why green hospital practices could make you sick,” Kent Sepkowitz, Jan. 14, 2013

  • Medical mistakes — including things like failure to properly diagnose a disease or illness, preventable surgical errors and medication errors — can result in serious patient harm, while at the same time being hard to fully comprehend and unravel. Our firm advocates rigorously and with unrelenting focus on behalf of clients who have sustained injuries resulting from acts of medical malpractice and hospital negligence. We invite readers to visit our Bergen County, New Jersey, Medical Malpractice page for further information.

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