Comptroller: Set medical equipment reuse policy

Health Ministry failure to reach decision over equipment reuse for 15 years could cost up to NIS 70 million, says State Comptroller.

colorful syringes medical 311 (photo credit: Snakebite Productions)
colorful syringes medical 311
(photo credit: Snakebite Productions)
The Health Ministry has failed for the last 15 years to determine its policy for reusing certain medical equipment, which could save as much as NIS 70 million a year, the State Comptroller’s Report revealed.
The issue has been debated for many years, but it has not been resolved.
Some Israeli hospitals have, been criticized for reusing “disposable” equipment after sterilization, while the state comptroller has now criticized the ministry for not establishing a policy that would lead to more and safer reuses.
The companies that make equipment such as coronary catheters – two major ones are Israeli – generally state the equipment should be used only once, either for the purpose to make more profit or from their concern that failure to sterilize them properly could lead to lawsuits against the manufacturers.
Four committees of experts issued recommendations in 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003 over reuse of such equipment to save money, but the ministry did not make a decision. Some Western countries prohibit reuse, others allow it to be reused subject to certain conditions.
The comptroller said there is no estimated date set for its resolution, and hospitals continue to to reuse disposable medical equipment without supervision or control, Micha Lindenstrauss said in the report.
In 2004, the State Comptroller’s Office audited the ministry and asked it to come up with a solution to the issue. As a result, another committee, headed by the chairman of the national logistics council, was appointed in May 2005. In November of that year, the committee gave its recommendations to the ministry. Throughout 2006, ministry staff worked on implementing those recommendations, and finally in 2009, the recommended procedures were approved but never signed or published.
In August of last year, Health Ministry Director- General Prof. Ronnie Gamzu decided to postpone implementation of recommendations to allow reuse under certain conditions, but they were not implemented because he wanted it to appear in a bill for medical equipment devices and other equipment.