As infection control efforts in hospitals and other healthcare settings intensify, medical providers are turning to disposable medical products as a way of ensuring staff and patient safety. Nosocomial infections are infections caused by treatment in a hospital or other healthcare unit. Hospital-associated infections are a serious problem for patients and the healthcare industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximate that there are 1.7 million hospital-associated infections each year that cause nearly 100,000 deaths in the United States. Hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices are looking for ways to reduce these tragic statistics, and disposable medical supplies are an essential part of increasing patient safety.
Before disposable medical products were widely available, healthcare providers relied on autoclaves to sterilize all equipment. Autoclaves use high heat and intense pressure to sterilize items. The autoclave has been used for over 100 years and is generally very effective. Autoclaves are essential pieces of equipment in hospitals and many other medical settings.
Unfortunately, the autoclaving process is not always perfect and medical products may not, in fact, be sterile after autoclaving. Some plastics cannot be autoclaved because they would melt. In addition, while autoclave sterilization kills viruses, bacteria, and fungi, it is not effective against prions that cause diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Mad Cow Disease. Even when autoclave sterilization works well, it takes time and effort to run the autoclave. Autoclaves are still used in hospitals, labs, and even tattoo parlors to sterilize equipment that is not disposable. However, supplies that are available in a disposable form are certainly safer and easier to use.
When items such as face masks, syringes, or scalpels are reused, they can spread infections from one patient to another. Many patients in hospitals have weakened immune systems, so the risk from cross-contamination is especially great. Hospital staff members are also at risk of being exposed to infections when they handle or clean used medical products.
Disposable medical supplies are intended for single patient use, so they do not pose the risk of spreading infection. For example, if a patient needs an IV to replenish lost fluids, the procedure can be safely done using only disposable medical products. All of the products used, from the tourniquet, alcohol swab, and gauze to the stylet, catheter, tubing, and IV bag, are all disposable medical products that pose no risk to the patient or healthcare provider of transmitting an infection from a different patient.
Sterile Disposable Medical Products
Many disposable medical products are sterile and individually wrapped to provide maximum patient protection. These disposable medical supplies are especially important for patients with compromised immune systems. In these cases, when infection control is a top priority, health care providers should use sterile disposable medical products as much as possible. For instance, if a nurse needs to take a patient’s temperature, a sealed disposable thermometer is a better option than an electric thermometer that has been used with other patients. Catheters, bandages, applicators, tubing, syringes, and more are all available as sterile disposable medical supplies.
Personal Protective Equipment
Health care providers must take great precautions to protect their health. They may be exposed to many pathogens every day, and proper protective gear is the best way for them to stay safe. Disposable medical supplies are essential to keeping doctors, nurses, and EMTs safe from infections. One of the most important safety products is the disposable glove. Health care providers should always wear gloves and change them frequently. Disposable gloves are available in latex or non-latex and in a range of colors and sizes. Other disposable medical products that are vital for personal protection include face masks, protective isolation gowns, protective shoe covers, and bouffant caps.