A surgeon based in New Jersey has been accused of reusing single-use anal catheters, according to reports.
Dr. Sanjiv K. Patankar, a colorectal surgeon based in East Brunswick may have overlooked the fact that “single-use” catheters are not meant to be used again, Forbes reports.
The New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners suspended Patankar’s medical license after he allegedly reused disposable catheters on many patients. Anal catheters are tubes that are inserted into a person’s rectum in order to inject fluids or get fecal matter samples. In short, anal catheters get really dirty while in use, hence they are meant to be single-use only, disposed of immediately after.
But from January 1 to November 30, 2017, Patankar’s office reportedly completed 82 procedures in which the catheters were needed, but the doctor only ordered five catheters. This means one catheter was used on at least 16 different patients. Apparently, Patankar and his staff washed the catheters in between uses.
This is equivalent to toilet paper being washed then used again. Microbes, including harmful bacteria and viruses, can hide in the crevices and cracks in catheters. In addition, reusing these disposable catheters can transmit infectious diseases from one patient to the next. Washing can also damage any device, material or equipment not meant to be washed, which creates more cracks and tears for microbes to hide in.
Reusing disposable items can be a common practice in some medical institutions, especially when the goal is to cut down on costs. Environmental advocates also insist that reusing is ecologically better, arguing that medical device companies actually market items as single-use when they can, in fact, be used multiple times.
But inappropriate use of disposable medical products such as catheters raises many ethical and safety questions. Anything that affects patient safety should be transparent, and the well-being of patients should always come first.