For over six decades, the use of PVC in healthcare applications has proven to be safe. The material has been rigorously tested through pre-and post-marketing evaluation and surveillance systems.
Flexibility, durability and dependability
Not only does PVC offer the flexibility necessary for applications such as blood bags or intravenous (IV) tubing, but it can also be relied upon for its strength and durability under changing temperatures and conditions. These properties are essential in providing convenience and performance for healthcare professionals – and thereby benefiting patient comfort and ensuring quality hospital care.
Since the 1960s, the use of PVC in healthcare applications and medical devices has played a huge role in allowing the broader population access to safe, first-rate, affordable healthcare, as well as supporting governments in their efforts to ensure the smart use of resources and create innovative, high-quality and financially sustainable healthcare systems. PVC combines very low manufacturing and maintenance costs with excellent durability and long-lasting performance.
PVC has been crucial in reducing and preventing healthcare-acquired infections. The absence of contamination sources is a fundamental requirement in medical product applications. PVC medical devices can be easily sterilised using such methods as steam, radiation or ethylene oxide, while keeping key properties such as flexibility and resistance to tears, scratches and kinks.
Materials used in medical applications must be capable of accepting or conveying a variety of liquids without themselves undergoing any significant changes in composition or properties. PVC meets these demands.
Whenever plastics are in direct contact with the patient’s tissue or blood, a high degree of compatibility is essential. PVC is characterised by high biocompatibility, and this can be increased further by appropriate surface modification.
Clarity and transparency
Because of the material’s physical properties, products made from PVC can be formulated with excellent transparency to allow for continual monitoring of fluid flow. If colour-coded application is needed, virtually any colour can be created.
PVC is compatible with virtually all pharmaceutical products in healthcare facilities today. It also has excellent water and chemical resistance, helping to keep solutions sterile.
Resistance to chemical stress cracking
PVC’s resilience ensures that medical products function consistently, for extended use, in demanding applications. Ease of processing means that PVC can be extruded to make IV tubing, thermoformed to make blister packaging, or blow moulded to make hollow rigid containers. This versatility is a major reason why PVC is the material of choice for medical product and packaging designers.
PVC is an extremely resource-efficient material through its entire life-cycle. It provides excellent durability and long-lasting performance with low maintenance costs. PVC waste is highly recyclable and can be recovered as a valued raw material to make other secondary products. Recycling schemes for PVC medical devices exist in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Guatemala and South Africa.
Safe and reliable
PVC medical devices have been tried and tested by medical professionals for many decades and have proven to be safe and reliable when it matters the most.
Single-use medical devices of PVC and plastics revolutionised healthcare in the 1960s by eliminating dangerous cross-contamination between patients.
Fit for recycling
PVC is an easily recyclable plastic, and in several countries around the world hospitals collect and recycle non-infectious PVC medical devices, which are then turned into useful new products.