The Food and Drugs Admi nistration has decided to initiate stringent checks on the use of disposables in hospitals in Maharashtra.The decision follows several complaints from patients and their relatives that disposables such as catheters, guide wires and balloons used in angioplasty were reused in many private hospitals. “We have received several complaints regarding hospitals reusing disposables and billing patients.This is completely unacceptable. We will soon initiate an inspection of state’s private hospitals to check their inventory of disposables and assess if they are reusing the same and billing patients for it. We will not spare anybody if a hospital is found at fault,“ state FDA commissioner Harshadeep Kamble told TOI.

The Union health ministry had on December 21, 2016 issued an office memorandum warning against reuse of disposable surgical items, particularly in cardiology , when they are meant for one-time use. “The disposable items after one procedure are sterilised and reused and (patients) are charged full amount for these items,“ stated the memo.

It said, “Reuse of disposable items, particularly in cardiology and other specialities, is not permitted in healthcare organisations empanelled under CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme).“ It goes on to warn of `suitable action including withdrawal of CGHS empanelment’ against defaulters.The memo, however, did not talk about action against big corporate hospitals that are not empanelled under CGHS.

Activist Sanjeev Dabhade said, “It is good to keep an eye.Alittle strengthening of surveillance makes things fall in place. Nobody can firmly say that there is not a single hospital in Pune that does not reuse disposables.“ All disposable items have instructions on the packaging saying they should be used only once.