to main content New Quick Safety advisory on ensuring safety of critical instruments and devices in health care | The Joint Commission

New Quick Safety advisory on ensuring safety of critical instruments and devices in health care

Tuesday, February 15 2022

Media Contact:  
Katie Looze Bronk
Corporate Communications  
(630) 792-5175  

(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois, February 15, 2022) – Surgical instruments and other critical devices are reprocessed and reused every day in health care facilities. Ensuring these instruments and devices are reusable – that they are in good condition and are cleaned and sterilized following validated manufacturer’s instructions – is critical to patient safety. 

A new Quick Safety advisory from The Joint Commission, “Ensuring critical instruments and devices are appropriate for reuse,” highlights reprocessing guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as special circumstances for single use devices (SUDs). While a SUD is intended for use on one patient during a single procedure and is not intended to be reprocessed and used on another patient, there are special circumstances under which third parties only may reprocess.

The Quick Safety details how most SUDs are not designed for reprocessing and do not allow for thorough decontamination after use, including that some are made of lower quality metals or components that will not withstand cleaning and sterilization processes and may deform, rust, pit, chip or crack if subjected to reprocessing methods. 

The advisory also includes several recommended safety actions for reprocessing reusable instruments and devices, including:

  • Standardized instrument and device visualization occurring during each step of the decontamination, cleaning and sterilization processes with final inspection prior to use and removal of any instrument inappropriate for use. 
  • Integration of infection preventionist review of critical instruments and devices during the purchasing process. 
  • Readily available manufacturer’s instructions for use and intermittent review of instructions for all critical instruments and devices.
  • Education, training and competency of staff responsible for reprocessing, oversight and/or supervision of reprocessing sterile products for their role in reprocessing reusable instruments and related job duties. 
  • Effective maintenance and refurbishment processes to keep instruments in optimal condition and to determine when useful life has been met for each instrument undergoing reprocessing. 

Additional considerations related to SUDs and a list of resources are included in the full Quick Safety advisory. It may be reproduced if credited to The Joint Commission.  


About The Joint Commission  
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at