Infection prevention and control guidelines

10. Reprocessing reusable medical devices

Risk assessment

      1. Risk assessment

Last revised: 17 Jun 2024

Risk assessment

The practice’s infection prevention and control coordinator must ensure the level of processing for specific reusable medical devices and equipment is appropriate to the risk of infection posed by their reuse.

Risk assessment is based on the Spaulding classification1 (Table 10.2. Spaulding classification). The site of use (eg intact or non-intact skin, mucous membranes, sterile sites such as surgical wounds) is a key determinant of the level of risk to the patient.

Table 10.2. Spaulding classification – application to reusable medical devices






Contact with sterile tissue, sterile cavity, or bloodstream

Surgical instruments used for excision

Podiatry instruments used to penetrate or abrade skin (nail cutters, scalers, files)

Sharps used in neurological testing

Sterilisation by steam under pressure (autoclaving)

Sterility must be maintained

Integrity of the package must be maintained

Must be protected from environmental contamination


Contact with intact nonsterile mucosa or nonintact skin

Vaginal speculum used for routine cervical sampling

Instruments used in wound care (eg forceps, scalpel handles, scissors)

Sterilisation by steam under pressure

Must be protected from environmental contamination


Contact with intact skin


Plastic* cuff on sphygmomanometer

Pulse oximeter


Cleaning with detergent


Cleaning and disinfection with low-level disinfectant

Storage in clean, dry place

*Fabric sphygmomanometer cuffs cannot be cleaned.