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Sustainability of Single-Use Endoscopes

      Abstract

      Interest in single-use, disposable endoscopes has been growing due to concerns about infection transmission with reusable endoscopes. Yet valid concerns remain about the sustainability of single-use endoscopes in the form of long-term economic, environmental, and social consequences, even with the assumption that single-use endoscopes eliminate infection risk completely, are technically equivalent, and are cost-neutral to patients and hospitals when compared with reusable endoscopes. Economic sustainability extends beyond the per unit cost of single-use endoscopes to the concept of economic growth without adverse effects on the environment and society. Environmental sustainability is responsibly interacting with the planet to protect and conserve natural resources to support health and well-being, now and in the future. Environmental sustainability is influenced by all stages in the life cycle of an endoscope including manufacturing, transport, use, and disposal, most of which remains obscured to hospitals and physicians. Social sustainability, the recognition of and a commitment to, ensure that new medical devices are available to all patients and that the manufacture, use, and disposal of medical devices does not harm others, particularly vulnerable populations. Physicians and hospitals deliberating the adoption of single-use endoscopes should carefully consider the full extent of sustainability and long-term consequences in their discussions.

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