Too Far Gone: Understanding When Your Surgical Instrument Has Officially Died


(This is the first installment of a short series of articles focused on surgical instrument quality, repair, and refurbishment from the perspective of a UK instrument manufacturer and repair professional [Daniel Coole] and a US sterile processing consultant [Hank Balch]).


Daniel Coole: Would you stir you coffee with this (surgical instrument)? I love this question as it is the ultimate instrument performance, cleanliness and hygiene test. The answer should be yes every time, but the challenge is much broader.


The challenge for covering this topic is the amount of stakeholders involved in direct/indirect usage of the instrument and an interpretation of when an instrument can still be used. There needs to be a reasonable understanding across the stakeholders as to what the device is used for, how it is used and the basic of how it works, which can generally be backed up vs the usage intended.


I had a rather heated exchange with a customer a few years ago, over what should have been a beautiful Metzenbaum dissecting scissor; the customer worked in the sterilisation department as an administrator. I was trying to explain to them that the scissor that we returned as unrepairable, was unrepairable because it was over ground and therefore could not perform for the purpose it was designed for.


It also had a super cut edge omitted from the edge, so not only would the scissor not cut along the whole blade, but it would not have the grip and cut of the micro serration/sharpened edge that the scissor was designed for. The response from the customer was “these are just basic scis