HIQA to commence a specific programme of inspection in the area of reusable medical device decontamination

Date of publication:

Today, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has announced that it will commence 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 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 will begin from August 2018.

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Notes to Editor:

  • This guide should be used in conjunction with the previous Guide to the monitoring programme undertaken against the National Standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections sent to all hospitals and published on www.hiqa.ie in May 2017.
  • The new monitoring approach was developed in consultation with a specially convened expert advisory group, which included technical expertise and patient representation.