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Single use items, UK law and the legal obligations of registered practitioners.

AfPP wishes to highlight that there are some potential legal and professional issues arising from the acknowledgement within the previous article that Flowtron boots are reused and that such practice is against the manufacturer's recommendations. It would appear that Flowtron boots are defined as a single use item, and as such should not be reused. The legal consequences of such practice can be found in the Consumer Protection Act 1987, with reference to product liability. The manufacturer is responsible for the product liability of their products, thus ensuring that in the event of an adverse incident caused by their product, they are liable in the eyes of the law. This applies providing that the product concerned has been used in accordance with their instructions. The reuse of a designated single use item will be against the manufacturer's recommendations and therefore, the manufacturer is no longer responsible for product liability. In this instance, the product liability will pass to the organisation and employees who undertake such actions, i.e. the hospital trust and staff who reuse the items concerned.

In professional terms, Registered Nurses are required to abide by the Code of Professional Conduct: Standards for Conduct, Performance and Ethics and Clause 1.5 is as follows:

'You must adhere to the laws of the country in which you are practising' (NMC 2004 p3).

Operating Department Practitioners are also required to abide by the Standards for Conduct, Performance and Ethics, which has the following standards that may be relevant to this issue:

'3. You must keep high standards of personal conduct (p3)

4. You must provide any important information about conduct, competence or health (p3)

14. You must behave with integrity and honesty' (HPC 2003, p8).

AfPP therefore suggests that registered practitioners be aware of the implications of their actions in relation to product liability, and raise any concerns that they may have with their manager and other appropriate personnel within their organisation.


Health Professions Council 2003 Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics London, HPC

Nursing and Midwifery Council 2004 Code of Professional Conduct: Standards for Conduct, Performance and Ethics London, NMC

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Article Details
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Publication:Journal of Perioperative Practice
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2007
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