Medical consumables are single-use medical devices or disposable medical materials. They include syringes, needles, IV sets, sutures, staples, packaging, tubing, catheters, medical gloves, gowns, masks, head cover, shoe cover, adhesives, and sealants for wound dressing and other devices and tools used in hospital or surgical environment.
The proper selection of a supplier for medical consumables plays a significant role in saving funds for a company. Medical suppliers need to be evaluated based on the following points:
- Supplier legitimacy: The medical industry is very much regulated. For this reason, prospective buyers may think that all suppliers of medical consumables are legitimate. Prospective buyers need to exercise caution in their selection. Ensure that the company you are looking at has a physical address on its website, a contact number, and warehouse pictures.
- Recognized brands: Transact only with suppliers who sell reputable brands. When suppliers attempt to entice you with never heard of brands, be careful and get away from them.
- Legitimate sources: Your supplier may turn out to be selling counterfeits or fake products. Therefore, ensure and establish that your suppliers have legitimate sources.
- History and reputation: Suppliers with a long history of serving you signify their long-term sustainability. In other words, they could very likely help and aid you in more years to come. In addition, prospective suppliers need to establish a good reputation. A good reputation gauges the service quality and reliability of the supplier. In connection with these selection parameters, you need to inquire about the year of establishing the company. In addition, it would help if you found out the names and backgrounds of the managers running the company.
- Customer service and delivery: Your supplier should have a phone number that you can call five days a week. An e-mail address that can answer your queries within 24 hours and a live chat facility should also be available. Establish the reaction time of your suppliers. Ensure that they are capable of delivering your consumables within negotiated time. On some occasions, your suppliers may use the services of distributors. Find out and study if this setup is suitable for your business.
Medical consumables fall as either sterile or non-sterile. Whichever, proper storage of medical consumables plays a significant role in maintaining the sanitation and integrity of the products. Following are the suggested guidelines:
- The same area or a cabinet can store both sterile and non-sterile medical consumables. However, a cleanable barrier or partition must segregate the clean and pure supply from the non-sterile stocks.
- The dividers in the storage containers must ensure that there will be no mixing of stocks coming from different specifications. Stock merchandisers must keep the same items with similar sizes separate from the other supplies. In other words, there must be differentiation of the same products and different sizes.
- Merchandisers need to store sterile supplies on open shelving. The shelf has at least 250 mm distance from the floor and 440 mm below the ceiling fixtures.
- Merchandisers must safeguard the integrity of the sterile supply packaging by allowing space for stocks of different shapes and sizes. The storage space must not compromise the packaging and the contents.
- The shelving must be adjustable and flexible to accommodate changes in the size and shape of products.
- Do not facilitate dust collection.
- Merchandisers must observe stock rotation.
- Use shelving with non-porous material and smooth surfaces that prevent damaging packaging.
- Do not allow the sterile supply to come in contact with walls.
As part of medical wastes
Medical consumables become part of the medical wastes after using them. They can cause the spread of infections and diseases if they are not correctly and adequately managed or discarded. There are principally three types of medical wastes wherein used medical consumables are part of them:
- Infectious waste: Health workers classify any used medical consumables with body fluids and blood as infectious waste, such as needles, syringes, and IV sets. People who get in contact with these materials will possibly contract some form of the disease. This form of waste ranks as the worst type.
- Hazardous waste: This type of medical waste will not lead to infections. However, they can cause fissures, cuts, pricks, and burns. Medical consumables, such as unused needles and syringes, belong to this type of waste. Other examples are solvents, acids, caustic bases, and lab packs.
- Radioactive waste: This type of medical waste comes from consumables used in treating cancer patients with radiation.
- Autoclave: This refers to killing disease-causing microorganisms present in the used medical consumables using heat and other modes. Subsequently, the waste removal company picks up the autoclaved materials and disposes of them as non-infectious waste.
- Chemical disinfection: Some wastes, such as chemicals and pharmaceutical products, cannot be autoclaved. Hence, companies resort to chemical treatment. This type of treatment saves companies’ funds because workers do not need to package and transport medical waste. Instead, workers will perform the chemical applications on-site using sodium hydroxide, chlorine, or calcium oxide.
- Incineration: This refers to the burning of medical waste in an incinerator designed for this purpose. The size of the incinerator in a particular facility depends on the volume of waste materials for burning. The incineration can be handled on-site or off-site depending on the size of the facility, the amount of waste produced, and the local regulations regarding limitations.
- Irradiation: This refers to the use of gamma irradiation in treating biomedical wastes. However, most companies do not use this treatment method because of strict regulatory requirements and prohibitive costs.
- Microwave: This works like the autoclave, using heat to decontaminate different kinds of medical waste. It works better for solid or not completely dry waste. The presence of little moisture in the waste materials allows the deeper penetration of heat. Thus, decontamination turns out to be more effective. Shredding or mixing medical waste with some amount of water promotes better results. In addition, the shredding reduces the volume of medical waste for transport to landfills.
Some health sectors proposed recycling as a way of disposing of medical consumables. However, other health-related groups have been opposing such moves and recommendations. They believe that the practice is unsafe. They also oppose the dumping of sterilized medical consumables. They contend that wildlife can still access medical wastes that have been purified with disease-causing microorganisms and dumped in landfills. Furthermore, the liquid part of the medical waste can still leak into the ground, posing an environmental issue. These sectors believe that repurposing medical consumables is more appropriate than recycling or merely dumping them in landfills.