Words Matter in Our Current State of Rapid Change

The only constant in life is change. — Heraclitus

We all face changes every day — whether it is a simple change in the weather, or a historic change like a pandemic. Change affects us all, and we each deal with change differently.

Our healthcare providers have found amazing ways to change their everyday procedures and processes. There may be no other profession as innovative as healthcare workers in times of change or crisis management.

We thought it might be helpful to review some very basic terms that are being confused in our current state of rapid change. For quick reference, I have provided the following simple definitions to help clarify some terminology that we are hearing repeatedly in this time of change.

Reuse refers to using the same product for multiple encounters with a patient.

Limited reuse has been recommended as an option for conserving product while caring for a patient.

Extended reuse has been recommended as an alternative during critical need to conserve product for prolonged use.

Decontamination is defined as the process of removing or neutralizing contaminants that have accumulated on personnel and equipment.

Sterilization, as defined in the FDA’s Liquid Chemical Sterilants/High Level Disinfectants guidance document, is a validated process used to render a product free of all forms of viable microorganisms.

Reprocessing is defined as validated processes used to render a medical device that has been previously used or contaminated, fit for a subsequent single use. These processes are designed to remove soil and contaminants by cleaning and to inactivate microorganisms by disinfection or sterilization.

In this unique time of crisis, change is the basis for everyday survival. We find ourselves understanding definitions but finding ways to make them work for the current state of change.

TractManager would like to add further clarity regarding all these definitions. Please refer to our evidence-based reports for further detail:


Dee Donatelli

Vice President, Professional Services

Dee Donatelli joined TractManager in 2018 as the director of Value Analysis Consulting.


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