The metal speculum has been used by physicians for hundreds of years. It is made of a sturdy material, and it is designed to be a reliable tool a gynecologist uses to conduct a pelvic examination. The metal speculum even boasts environmental and economic benefits, as it minimizes medical waste and seemingly reduces costs. Although this medical device is still used by some practices, it does bring about major challenges that currently plague the medical industry.
First and foremost, metal speculums present serious threats of cross-contamination. Since metal speculums are reusable, they can potentially expose patients and physicians to cross-contamination. The metal speculum’s intricate design features unique crevices, bolts, and openings. After just one use, biological debris can easily hide within these areas. If metal speculums are not sterilized properly before or after use, harmful pathogens are likely to transfer to another individual. That being said, sterilization alone may not be enough to ensure a metal speculum will not contribute to local cross-contamination.
Typically, a metal vaginal speculum has a recommended lifespan of five years. During that time, hundreds of uses on hundreds of patients will cause the metal device made of surgical steel to depreciate. This means the metal speculum will be vulnerable to rusting, staining, and natural corrosion. These changes can affect regular sterilization processes, ultimately compromising the safety of patients and physicians.
If inventory is misplaced, certain tools can be expensive to replace. For example, a metal speculum may be lost or stolen from one day to the next. If substitute speculums are not handy, a rush shipment of reusable metal speculums may be difficult to secure. Additionally, replacing metal speculums will be much more expensive than replacing plastic speculums.
Excess sterilization processes and routine inspections can be tedious and costly to perform. These are necessary to maintain reusable medical devices like metal speculums. Medical practices need to decide if they want to allocate valuable time to additional procedures that preserve reusable tools, especially when they could be spending that time cultivating one-on-one relationships with patients.
Today, choosing between a dated metal speculum and a modern single-use speculum is easy. Companies like Cyalume Medical are introducing innovative medical tools that transform the way gynecology is practiced. One of these tools is the SpecuLume EZ, a single-use, chemiluminated vaginal speculum. This plastic, environmentally friendly, and patient-safe speculum provides numerous benefits to optimize the physician and patient experience during a pelvic exam. For more information about the SpecuLume EZ, contact Cyalume Medical.