HIQA inspection of reusable medical device decontamination

HIQA has begun inspecting how public acute hospitals are decontaminating and reprocessing reusable medical devices.

To give hospitals and the public an overview of the monitoring programme, HIQA says it has published a Guide to HIQA’s programme of monitoring of the decontamination and reprocessing of reusable medical devices in public acute hospitals.
Reusable medical devices, such as surgical instruments, endoscopes and ultrasound probes, are devices that can be reprocessed by thorough cleaning followed by high-level disinfection or sterilisation and then reused on multiple patients.
Endoscopic and other minimally invasive procedures which use reusable medical devices have revolutionised medicine.

For example, endoscopic procedures in surgery are generally safer and less likely to result in complications (including surgical site infection) when compared to conventional open surgery. The success of such procedures and the evolution of new techniques will see an ever-increasing demand for the use of reusable medical devices over time. However, such procedures are not entirely risk free. One such risk is the potential for the transmission of infection if the devices used to complete these procedures are not properly cleaned and decontaminated between patients.

HIQA has an existing inspection programme of monitoring against the revised National Standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections in acute healthcare services since 2017. The programme of monitoring of the decontamination and reprocessing of reusable medical devices is designed to supplement that monitoring programme.

This guide aims to provide an understanding of HIQA’s approach to monitoring compliance with relevant National Standards to ensure patient safety in the decontamination and reprocessing of reusable medical devices.

Inspections under this programme will be conducted in a sample of public acute hospitals and unannounced inspections began in August.
The Guide can be found on www.hiqa.ie.