Modern medical devices and equipment pose many benefits to physicians. They can streamline a patient’s examination and yield more accurate results when basic tools are not sufficient. In gynecology, speculums are “critical” devices used to complete a thorough examination. That being said, speculums have come a long way since the device’s origin. Although a certain speculum’s benefits depend on its design and technical functionality, a major feature of this medical device should be its ability to fight cross-contamination. After all, what’s the benefit of a modern medical device if it is not safe for patients?
What is cross-contamination?
Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria or other microorganisms from an individual, object, or surface to another unique individual, object, or surface. These bacteria, otherwise known as biological contaminants, can be dangerous to patients or physicians.
In the medical world, cross-contamination can be common. Devices can be categorized as “critical” items, “semi-critical” items, and “non-critical” items. Procedure trays, counter surfaces, and reusable devices can all be items at risk of transferring biological contaminants if not sterilized correctly. The sterilization process is crucial to a successful examination as well as a successful medical practice. If the sterilization process is somehow tampered with and a medical device’s safety is compromised, the patient and physician’s health can be at risk.
How can reusable speculums contribute to cross-contamination?
Reusable speculums have been used since the start of medicine. Of course, sterilization techniques have improved over time; however, the dangers of cross-contamination still prove to be present when reusable speculums are used during gynecological examinations. Reusable vaginal speculums are offered in a variety of materials, the most popular being metal. A metal speculum is mostly produced of surgical steel. This portion of the device can be sterilized using traditional disinfectants, like solvents and detergents. A metal speculum might have non-metal parts though, which can absorb toxic chemicals or dangerous bacteria.
When using reusable speculums, physicians must also assume speculums have been sterilized properly. It only takes one misstep in the sterilization process to completely compromise the integrity of a clean, reusable speculum.
What’s the solution?
Single-use, disposable speculums have swept the medical device market, significantly reducing the risk of cross-contamination. Disposable speculums come pre-sterilized, so onsite team members do not have to worry about completing routine sterilization processes. Physicians will use the speculum once on a single patient. Then, they can safely dispose of the recyclable device. Physicians can be sure this disposable medical device will be the least risk-averse option among gynecological examination tools.
To learn more about the benefits of single-use, disposable speculums, please visit Cyalume Medical. Our modern Speculume EZ, a single-use, illuminated vaginal speculum, provides true intravaginal lighting, reduces the environmental impact of batteries, and increases patient satisfaction. Cyalume Medical: Patient care in a new light.