Health DG says single-use equipment still functions as well if it is used for a second or third time.
KUALA LUMPUR: Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says disposable medical devices and single-use equipment can be used safely up to three times.
"Disposable items can be used for a second and third time. We do use that (method)," he said during the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between the health ministry and Standard Chartered Foundation here yesterday.
Single-use devices can also be safely reused, he said, giving the example of LigaSure, which is an electrothermal bipolar tissue sealing system, and Diathermy, which is electrically induced heat used as a form of physical or occupational therapy.
He said both could be used more than once.
When asked if reusing single-use devices could pose health complications, Noor Hisham said, "No, they would still be functioning as well."
He was responding to an FMT report which said the lack of funds was driving some government hospitals to recycle single-use devices.
The report quoted a source in the healthcare sector who said the practice posed a health risk to patients.
Noor Hisham said reusing such equipment would not be considered unsanitary as it is autoclaved, or cleaned through steam sterilisation.
He added that the practice did not involve any equipment used on patients with infectious diseases.
Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam, who was also at the event, agreed, saying hospitals followed the accepted protocol given by manufacturers.
"That control will be there. It is not something we do ourselves.
"If the manufacturers say it is for one use only, then we will dispose it after one use.
"A lot of manufacturers say that although it is said to be a single-use device, it can be used more than once."
Various health risks have reportedly been associated with the reuse of single-use medical devices.
According to the University of Nottingham, the risks of reusing single-use devices include cross-infection of blood-borne diseases.
Patient safety is also threatened by device malfunction and breakage linked to reuse, for which the devices are not designed.