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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Medical Devices

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What are Reusable Medical Devices?

Reusable medical devices are devices that health care providers can reprocess and reuse to diagnose and treat multiple patients. Examples of reusable medical devices include surgical forceps, endoscopes and stethoscopes.

All reusable medical devices can be grouped into one of three categories according to the degree of risk of infection associated with the use of the device:

  • Critical devices, such as surgical forceps, come in contact with blood or normally sterile tissue.
  • Semi-critical devices, such as endoscopes, come in contact with mucus membranes.
  • Non-critical devices, such as stethoscopes, come in contact with unbroken skin.

This website focuses on critical and semi-critical medical devices that are intended for reuse after reprocessing.

These devices are designed and labeled for multiple uses and are reprocessed by thorough cleaning and high-level disinfection or sterilization between patients. They are made of materials that can withstand repeated reprocessing, including manual brushing and the use of chemicals.

Some examples of reusable medical devices are:

  • Surgical instruments, such as clamps and forceps
  • Endoscopes, such as bronchoscopes, duodenoscopes, and colonoscopes, used to visualize areas inside the body
  • Accessories to endoscopes, such as graspers and scissors
  • Laparoscopic surgery accessories, such as arthroscopic shavers