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Safety is in the (Medical) Bags

In hospitals, emergency clinics, and other healthcare facilities, safety is a top priority. With patients fighting life-threatening and sometimes contagious diseases, high powered equipment and countless medications, the number of hazards that present themselves in these facilities is staggering. Each precaution that healthcare professionals can take is welcomed with open arms. But one area that is often overlooked is medical packaging, specifically custom plastic bags such as biohazard and specimen bags.

Custom plastic bags used to transport patient specimens and dispose of bi- hazardous waste are an obvious necessity for medical facilities. However, all too often we find that hospitals use these products as an area of cost savings, simply awarding the project to the lowest bidder, or worse, importing generic medical bags from overseas. The results can be disastrous, and possible fatal. Let’s examine what can go wrong with poor quality medical bags and how working with a credible, domestic plastic bag manufacturer can prevent such catastrophes from occurring.

Medical Misfortune: A Cautionary Tale

XYZ Hospital needed to cut costs to afford a new piece of expensive equipment. Eliminating staff was not an option, as patient intake rates just keep increasing. As options were limited, they turned to their supplies buyer for a solution. He suggested moving from custom plastic bags for specimens, labs and waste to generic medical bags. The board agreed that this was a good place to start.

Initially, all was well with this decision. The hospital saved enough to purchase the much needed new equipment and the staff found that the new generic medical bags worked very similarly to the custom plastic bags they had previously used. However, a storm was brewing on the horizon.

One day, the rush order lab samples for a young patient were never run. It turns out that the adhesive of the labels the hospital used did not stick to the plastic of the new medical bags. The label fell off at some point during transport and the sample sat in the lab for an entire day unaccounted for before it was properly disposed. Had the test been run immediately, the doctors would have prescribed an antibiotic and the patient could have returned home to rest. However, the patient had to be admitted as she got sicker. Though new samples were later taken and the patient was nursed back to full health, the delay in this case and many others impacted patient satisfaction.

An issue emerged with the biohazard bags as well. The previous bags were tested to be leak proof, but the new bags were unfortunately not as effective. The hospital followed standard procedures for wasted disposal, however, the waste management workers were all exposed to hazardous materials when several of the bags sprang a leak.

As a result of the two examples above, the hospital was forced to dispose of their remaining stock of medical bags and order a new batch from their previous manufacturer, finding that the generic bags were a sunk cost.

Preventing Mishaps with Custom Medical Bags

Now the example above is a hypothetical situation, but it’s all too easy to imagine how faulty medical bags could lead to huge safety and legal disasters. Working with an experienced plastic bag manufacturer ensures that your medical bags perform all of the functions that you need. In addition, a domestic plastic bag manufacturer is more likely to not only be aware of agency standards, but to test their products against them. For instance, we ensure that our Pull N’ Seal® bag closure system exceeds OSHA and NCLS standards for liquid-tight transport. Don’t cut corners with the medical bags at your facility! Contact your plastic bag manufacturer today to develop custom plastic bags that will keep everyone in your hospital safe.