The added value of PVC medical devices
Vinyl (another word for PVC) offers excellent durability, chemical resistance, low maintenance costs and affordability, which have made the plastic material a top choice when it comes to flooring, wall covering and other key elements of hygienic healthcare facilities. Thanks to these features, it currently accounts for about 40% of all plastics-based medical devices used in hospitals. As one of the most versatile materials available, vinyl is also used extensively in the healthcare sector for cables for telecommunications, pipes for drinking water and sewage, energy-saving windows and a range of other products.
of all plastics-based medical devices are made from PVC
In order to make the PVC material soft and flexible, plasticisers (US: plasticizers) are added. As all medical devices, PVC medical equipment with any plasticiser is subject to stringent pre- and post-market control and evaluation procedures to ensure safety and performance. A wide range of plasticisers are now included in the European Pharmacopoeia, which sets Europe’s legal and scientific standards to delivering high quality medicines in Europe and beyond.
Medical PVC is key to modern healthcare
PVC medical devices are fundamental in the creation of modern healthcare systems. Together with vinyl-based hospital interiors, they are able to guarantee the quality and performance demanded by medical professionals and regulatory bodies. At the same time, medical PVC has enabled governments to ensure the smart use of resources and create innovative, quality-driven and financially sustainable healthcare systems.
Over the years, the material has proved to be a safe, reliable and cost-efficient material for healthcare delivery. Together with the plastic’s numerous other properties – including ease of processing with different technologies, transparency, chemical stability and long shelf-life – you have a winning combination. As a result, PVC is now the most widely used plastic in pre-sterilised single-use medical applications.
Key properties of medical PVC
Main applications for medical PVCThe two main application areas for medically approved PVC compounds are flexible containers and flexible medical tubing.
PVC flexible containers
Flexible containers include containers for blood, urine continence and ostomy products and containers for intravenous solution-giving sets.
PVC medical tubing
Other PVC healthcare applicationsPVC is used for a wide range of other healthcare applications. Here a few examples:
Surgical & examination gloves
PVC coated mattress covers
Other medical PVC products:
- Blood and plasma transfusion sets
- Blood vessels for artificial kidneys
- Catheters and cannulae
- Endotracheal tubing
- "Artificial skin" in emergency burns treatment
- Containers for intravenous solution giving sets
- Container for urine continence and ostomy products
- Inflatable splints
- Shatter-proof bottles and jars
- Protective sheeting and tailored covers
- Dosage packs for pharmaceuticals and medicines
Have you ever wondered why there is much plastic in hospitals?
The Curious Patient wants to know the purpose of all the plastic that surrounds him in the hospital room. Watch the funny animation video for the answer.
PVC enabled a revolution in healthcarePVC medical devices were originally developed as replacements for natural rubber, glass and metal. Medical devices made of these materials required cleaning and re-sterilisation before reuse. The safety, high performance, low cost and versatility of PVC made it possible to manufacture single-use medical devices.
In the early 1960s, this resulted in a revolution within the healthcare sector. PVC medical applications can be easily sterilised while keeping their key properties such as flexibility and resistance to tears, scratches and kinks. PVC-based medical devices thus improved medical safety dramatically by reducing the risk of life-threatening and healthcare-acquired infections caused by traditional, multiple-use medical devices.