Storage Systems Unlimited

Author: Courtney Wainner

Single-Use vs. Reusable Endoscopes: Balancing Patient Safety, Financial Considerations and Environmental Impact

Endoscopies are common medical procedures that allow a doctor to look inside a person’s body and observe an internal organ in detail using an endoscope—a long, thin tube with a camera at one end. An estimated 75 million endoscopies are performed each year in the United States—and 68% (51.5 million) of those are gastrointestinal endoscopies. Other areas include the respiratory tract; ear; urinary tract; female reproductive tract; and through small incisions into an abdominal or pelvic cavity, interior of a joint, or organs of the chest.

In recent years, conversations about single-use and reusable endoscopes have increased within the healthcare industry—specifically about the use of single-use endoscopes. This escalating interest can be attributed to several key factors. First and foremost, patient safety has emerged as an important concern, urging physicians to scrutinize endoscopic procedures. The potential risks associated with inadequate sterilization of reusable endoscopes have spurred discussions about single-use alternatives. Moreover, rising healthcare costs have prompted healthcare organizations to assess the financial implications of adopting either option. The environmental impact of medical waste generated by single-use endoscopes has also fueled debate.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of single-use and reusable endoscopes, especially as it relates to patient safety, financial implications and environmental impact.

Prioritizing Patient Safety: The Soaring Adoption of Single-Use Endoscopes

Single-use endoscopes have gained significant popularity in recent years—specifically because of an increased focus on patient safety and research suggesting cross-contamination. Reusable endoscopes, despite undergoing meticulous cleaning and sterilization processes, can still harbor residual bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that pose a threat to subsequent patients. In fact, in October 2021, the American Journal of Gastroenterology issued an analysis of studies published from 2010 to 2020, concluding that nearly 20% of reprocessed patient-ready gastrointestinal endoscopes may be contaminated with microorganisms.

Even with strict protocols and cleaning requirements in place, it is nearly impossible to guarantee total elimination of all contaminants, especially because of the complex design of endoscopes with multiple crevices that are difficult to access during cleaning. By contrast, single-use endoscopes are sterile, providing a fresh and uncontaminated tool for each procedure. This significantly reduces the risk of infectious transmission between patients and helps maintain a safer healthcare environment. 

Reusable endoscopes are also subject to wear and tear over time, as well as damage from repeated sterilization processes, which can compromise their functionality and effectiveness. Inadequate cleaning or sterilization can lead to the buildup of debris, residual fluids or biofilms, increasing the risk of infection or inflammatory reactions when the endoscope is used on subsequent patients. Single-use endoscopes, on the other hand, are designed for one-time use and are manufactured to high standards of quality and sterility. This reduces the likelihood of technical malfunctions or suboptimal imaging quality that could potentially impact patient safety. 

Financial Considerations in the Reusable vs. Single-Use Endoscope Debate

When deciding between reusable and single-use endoscopes, hospitals and healthcare facilities must consider the costs associated with both options. Single-use endoscopes may have higher costs upfront, but healthcare supply chain executives must consider the long-term costs associated with reusable endoscopes when making the decision. 

The reprocessing of reusable endoscopes incurs extra costs. It requires investment in cleaning and sterilization equipment, as well as the use of chemicals and skilled personnel for proper reprocessing. These expenses can add up over time. Because reusable endoscopes are prone to wear and tear, they may require repairs or replacement of damaged components. These costs, along with the associated downtime during repairs, can be significant and impact the financial bottom line.

Evaluating Environmental Implications: Single-Use vs. Reusable Endoscopes

The choice between single-use endoscopes and reusable endoscopes not only involves patient safety conversations and financial considerations, but also raises important environmental impact concerns. Hospitals and healthcare organizations are increasingly concerned about sustainability and the environmental impact of their operations. The scale of their operations, coupled with the continuous need for patient care, results in substantial resource consumption and waste generation. By focusing on sustainability, hospitals aim to minimize their ecological footprint and conserve resources.

This increased focus on sustainability and the environment is another key factor in the single-use vs. reusable endoscope debate. Endoscopy is healthcare’s third-largest cause of medical waste in hospitals, according to a 2022 study published in the BMJ journal Gut. Single-use endoscopes, while offering convenience and sterility, contribute to the generation of medical waste.

On the other hand, reusable endoscopes have the potential to reduce the amount of waste generated in healthcare facilities. Although there is waste associated with reprocessing, it is still significantly less than what it would be with single-use endoscopes. A 2021 study published in Gut suggested that, “replacing reusable with single-use endoscopes and accounting for reduced waste from reprocessing of endoscopes would increase total waste mass by 40%.”

The choice between single-use endoscopes and reusable endoscopes is a complex decision that involves considerations of patient safety, financial implications and environmental impact. While single-use endoscopes offer advantages in terms of sterility and reduced risk of cross-contamination, they contribute to increased medical waste. Reusable endoscopes, on the other hand, can help reduce waste generation through proper reprocessing and extended use, but require significant investments in cleaning, maintenance and repairs.

Whether you are looking to maximize space with a high-density storage system for single-use endoscopes or need drying cabinets for reusable endoscopes, we can help. Storage Systems Unlimited offers a variety of storage cabinets to help meet your facility’s unique needs and requirements. For more information or to obtain a quote, contact us at 1-888-614-0004.

SSU’s 24th Annual Fish, Friends and Bluegrass Event was a Hit!

The annual Fish, Friends and Bluegrass music event is a cherished tradition at Storage Systems Unlimited. This event brings together friends and families for a day of mouth-watering food, toe-tapping music, and fun-filled activities.

The event was held in a spacious, outdoor venue that is perfect for picnics and outdoor activities – The Shed at The Factory at Franklin. There was plenty of shade for those who were seeking relief from the sun.

The star of the show, of course, was the fried fish. Uncle Bud’s went all out to provide the most delicious fish possible. The fish was fried to perfection, and guests chose from a variety of sides, including golden French fries, crispy hush puppies, fresh coleslaw, and savory beans. There was also delicious banana pudding for dessert, and plenty of ice-cold tea to wash it all down.

But the food was only half the fun. The other half was bluegrass music. The John Martin Band has been performing at the event for the past 18 years, and their music is the perfect accompaniment to the laid-back, summertime atmosphere. The music was a  blend of traditional bluegrass to more contemporary styles, and there was something for everyone to enjoy.

In addition to the food and music, there was also fun activities for guests to take part in:  Cornhole, GIANT JENGA, and Mölkky thanks to the Hereford Dooley Architects team.

Overall, our annual Fish, Friends and Bluegrass event was an excellent way to spend the day with friends and family. The combination of delicious food, great music, and fun activities made this a must-attend event for anyone in the surrounding area. This is one tradition that is sure to continue for many years to come. See you next year for the 25th!!!


Rolling in Durability: The Benefits of Steel and Aluminum Medical Carts

As medical facilities continue to evolve, the tools and equipment utilized by medical professionals must also adapt to meet the growing demands of the healthcare industry. Medical carts, specifically, have become a critical component, providing mobility and organization for medical equipment and supplies. When it comes to selecting a medical cart, one of the most important considerations is the material it is made of. In this blog post, we will explore the key differences between steel and aluminum metal carts, helping you make an informed decision for your healthcare facility.

Durability: Strength That Withstands Wear and Tear

Durability is an important factor when it comes to medical carts that ensure heavy usage and rough handling. While both steel and aluminum offer durability, steel is widely regarded as the stronger and more durable material. Its robustness enables it to withstand wear and tear, making it less likely to dent, scratch, break or bend.

Weight: Finding the Right Balance of Mobility

In many cases, a cart is meant to be moved—and the weight of medical carts plays a pivotal role in their mobility. Aluminum carts have gained popularity due to their lightweight nature, allowing healthcare employees to effortlessly maneuver them from one room to another. These carts offer ease of transportation without compromising on functionality. Conversely, steel carts are heavier and better suited for areas where they will be stationary, such as operating rooms, where stability and sturdiness take precedence over mobility.

Cost: Maximizing Your Investment

Financial considerations are important for any healthcare facility. Steel carts tend to be more cost-effective compared to aluminum carts. The abundance of steel as a material and the ease of its manufacturing contribute to its affordability. On the other hand, aluminum is a more expensive material, and it requires a more complex manufacturing process, thus making aluminum carts a pricier option.

Aesthetics: Balancing Functionality and Style

While functionality should take precedence, aesthetics can’t be overlooked. Steel carts exude an industrial look, which can be appropriate in some medical environments. On the other hand, aluminum carts offer a more modern and sleek appearance, which can complement contemporary healthcare facilities. Additionally, aluminum carts are available in a wider range of colors.

Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Facility

Selecting the right material for your medical cart is a decision that involves evaluating multiple factors, including durability, weight, cost, and aesthetics. Steel carts provide strength and affordability, making them an excellent choice for high-intensity environments. Alternatively, aluminum carts offer lightweight mobility and a modern appearance, catering to facilities where maneuverability and aesthetics are important. Ultimately, the decision between the two materials will depend on the unique needs and preferences of the medical facility.

If your facility needs updated medical carts, look no further. Storage Systems Unlimited is your one-stop shop for all your medical cart options. Need more guidance on selecting the right product for your hospital or department? Allow Storage Systems Unlimited help assess your needs and answer your questions. Contact us at 1-888-614-0004 or click here to request a quote.

4 Ways Better Storage Solutions Improve Patient Care

The patient is the most important person in the healthcare environment, and successful hospitals and healthcare providers consistently look for ways to improve patient care. While medical supply storage may not intuitively seem like an important issue for patient care, the right storage solutions actually can improve the patient experience.

Consider four important ways that better storage solutions can help providers and clinicians deliver better patient care.

1 | Clinicians can easily access needed supplies

When supplies are organized well and stored in close proximity to where they will be used, clinicians can quickly and easily retrieve them when necessary. This can reduce wait times for patients and drive more immediate patient care.

For example, when all medical supplies are kept in a storage room or supply closet on the hospital floor, nurses and other clinicians must constantly spend time returning to the supply closet, locating the needed supplies, and transporting them to patient rooms. However, with a stocked and organized supply cart, nurses can bring needed supplies with them from room to room, providing care as needed with supplies on hand. As a result, nurses can provide care for more patients in less time, improving the patient experience.

2 | Sterile storage solutions protect patient safety

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI), infections that patients acquire in a hospital, are one of the greatest threats to patient safety. Every year, the U.S. healthcare system records more than 1 million HAIs, leading to tens of thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars in costs, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing medical supplies and equipment is important for preventing HAIs, it’s also important to store sterilized supplies and equipment in a way that keeps them clean and sterile. For example, the CDC recommends avoiding the storage of medical and surgical supplies under sinks or in other locations where they can become wet. Closed or covered cabinets are the best way to store sterilized materials, but open shelving can also be used, as long as sterile supplies are stored at least 8-10 inches from the floor, 5 inches from the ceiling, and at least 2 inches from outside walls to allow for air circulation and easier cleaning.

In fact, the way that sterile supplies are stored plays an outsized role in how long the items can be useful for patient care, according to the CDC.

3 | Proper storage reduces the potential for medical errors or mistakes

Unfortunately, medication errors are common in hospitals, and in the U.S., between 7,000 and 9,000 people die as the result of errors in dispensing medication each year, according to research. However, using storage solutions such as medication carts with efficiently organized supplies can help reduce the potential for medical errors or medication mistakes.

Traditionally, a hospital pharmacy might dispense all prescribed medications to one medication room. But that system comes with inherent risk that nurses and other providers may accidentally pick up the wrong medication or the wrong dosage for a particular patient.

Today, software-enabled medication carts make it possible to eliminate this issue. These carts contain storage drawers that are secured with digital locks, accessible only by authorized users. The correct, prescribed medicines for each patient can be dosed appropriately and securely loaded into the cart. With integrated software, the carts track who accesses each drawer, which medications are removed and for which patient. All this automated information helps hospitals track every pill, hold providers accountable and keep patients safer.

4 | Patient data remains secure

The business of healthcare demands attention to privacy and security for patient data, and the right storage solutions can help provide that. For example, modern bedside storage carts for medication and patient charts include security details, such as pushbutton, key or radio frequency identification (RFID) locks. Some bedside carts are equipped with multiple alarms, which can be transmitted as both audible alerts and email/text notifications.

While most medical records are digitized, hospitals still use physical documents that need to be stored in secure environments to protect the confidentiality of patient data. For these physical documents, secure storage with organized filing systems are necessary for clinicians to locate needed information.

Paying attention to proper storage can help hospitals and clinicians provide better patient care and improved patient experiences.

Materials Matter: Why Polymer Plastic is a Smart Choice for Healthcare Storage

In healthcare facilities and medical environments, a focus on storage solutions is important for several reasons. Proper storage of medical supplies and equipment is essential for patient safety—if supplies and equipment are not stored correctly, they can become damaged or contaminated, which can pose an infection risk to patients. Storing medical supplies and equipment in a hygienic and organized manner can help prevent the spread of bacteria and other pathogens.

The materials used can be an important factor. In choosing storage solutions, healthcare organizations must consider factors such as ease of cleaning and disinfection, durability, safety, functionality, and cost.

Medical plastic is designed to be temperature, chemical and corrosion resistant. It must handle frequent sterilization cycles and any other medical or bodily fluids it could be exposed to. Medical grade polypropylene and medical grade polycarbonate are two common polymers used in several applications, including bins and containers, shelving, and medical carts.

When considering bins and containers for shelving units, polymer plastic is a popular choice. One reason is that polymer bins and containers are easier to clean. Polymer plastics are nonporous, meaning they cannot absorb liquids or other substances, thus making them a more hygienic option.

In addition, unlike wire, which can rust and become damaged over time, polymer plastics can withstand repeated use and exposure to chemicals, which reduces the need for frequent replacements.

 Polymer plastic bins and containers can be designed with a range of features, such as lids and dividers, to help organize medical equipment and supplies.


Plastic shelving can help sterile processing departments maintain a clean environment and also provide a safer design for the storage of packs. Wire shelving units often have a front lip that can rip sterile packs and wrapped trays. However, polymer shelving has a smooth front that offers better protection. A ripped pack is immediately unsterile and requires reprocessing, which can become expensive for the sterile processing department and impact other areas of the hospital, especially if it leads to delays in the operating room.

Medical Carts

When selecting a cart for your healthcare facility, choose one that will help support your organization’s cleaning process—like a cart with built-in antimicrobial product protection. Carts made with polymer plastic provide corrosion resistance and help to maintain a smooth aesthetic finish for the life of the product. Many Metro® products including Flexline®, Starsys® and Lifeline® carts feature Microban® antimicrobial product protection.

Storage Systems Unlimited is your one-stop shop for polymer storage options. Need more guidance on selecting the right product for your hospital or department? We can help assess your needs and answer your questions. Contact us at 1-888-614-0004 or click here to request a quote.

How Sterile Storage Options Keep Medical Supplies Safe

One of the greatest threats to patient safety is healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)—an infection that patients get in a healthcare facility. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that, on any given day, about 1 in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection. Every year, more than 1 million HAIs occur in the U.S. healthcare system, leading to tens of thousands of lives lost and costing billions of dollars.

High-quality cleaning, disinfection and sterilization of all medical supplies and equipment is one way to prevent HAIs—but healthcare organizations must also ensure that sterilized supplies and equipment are stored in a way that keeps them clean and sterile.

Research suggests that proper sterilization, packaging and storage can keep supplies and products sterile for long periods of time or even indefinitely. The CDC’s Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities (2008) says that “the shelf life of a packaged sterile item depends on the quality of the wrapper, the storage conditions, the conditions during transport, the amount of handling, and other events (moisture) that compromise the integrity of the package. If event-related storage of sterile items is used, then packaged sterile items can be used indefinitely unless the packaging is compromised.”

Furthermore, the CDC recommends, medical and surgical supplies should not be stored under sinks or in other locations where they can become wet. While closed or covered cabinets are an ideal storage solution, open shelving can also be used—as long as sterile supplies are stored at least 8–10 inches from the floor, 5 inches from the ceiling (unless near a sprinkler head, then 18 inches away), and at least 2 inches from outside walls to allow for air circulation and easier cleaning.


Sterile storage solutions can be a challenge for healthcare organizations that are already strapped for space. At Storage Systems Unlimited, we offer a variety of stainless steel products and storage solutions to help maximize space and efficiency and keep sterilized products safe for use.


When patients are in the operating room, they are at a high risk for infection. Keeping products clean and sterile until they are ready for use is critical. Stainless steel operating room cabinets don’t retain moisture and can be sanitized often, while keeping the sterilized products inside safe for use. Storage Systems Unlimited offers a variety of operating room cabinets made of stainless steel and with glass doors, which help employees see what is inside without frequently opening and closing the doors.

2 | Endoscopy Cabinets

Endoscope-associated infections are a common type of HAI. In 2021, the American Journal of Gastroenterology issued an analysis of studies published from 2010 to 2020 that revealed nearly 20% of reprocessed patient-ready gastrointestinal endoscopes may be contaminated with microorganisms. That’s why it is so important to store reprocessed endoscopes correctly. Storage Systems Unlimited offers several models of endoscope cabinets, including Harloff’s scope cabinet, which holds 14 scopes and features a HEPA filter, two high-volume intake fans and one exhaust fan, and an easy-to-clean removable drip tray.

3| Case Carts

Case carts “help to safeguard the sterile integrity of surgical instruments and supplies until they’re ready for use in a procedure,” according to an article in Outpatient Surgery Magazine. When sterilized items are needed in the operating room or other area of the hospital, employees can transport them in the case cart to reduce the number of times the items are handled and avoid damaging packaging.

4 | Stainless Steel Work Tables

When it comes to work tables, stainless steel is the safest choice. It is nonporous, meaning germs and bacteria can’t settle on the table. Storage Systems Unlimited offers several stainless steel work tables that can be used as prep and pack tables for the sterile processing department. Blickman’s work tables (available through Storage Systems Unlimited) are 34 inches tall, designed to reduce back stress for employees.

Storage Systems Unlimited is your one-stop shop for storage solutions for sterilized medical instruments and devices. Need more guidance on selecting the right storage solutions for your hospital or department? We can help assess your needs and answer your questions. Contact us at 1-888-614-0004 or request a quote here.