Disposable medical supplies have had a huge impact on the standard of medical care and life expectancy we enjoy today. As recently as the early 20th century, deaths due to hospital-acquired infections were common as instruments and materials required sterilization and were in short supply. Now, supplies such as bandages, gauze and syringes are mass-manufactured in disposable form, and hospitals can use and destroy them throughout the day for the benefit of patients and themselves. However, the hospital is far from the only place where these items are common. Below is a look at how disposable medical supplies have actually changed the world.
Use in Medical Settings
Healthcare facilities are filled with patients whose immune systems are ill-equipped to deal with serious infection, but this is exactly what makes these places a prime target for harmful microbes. In this environment, repeated use of materials such as face masks puts patients and staff at greater risk of serious infection, but the availability of disposable materials today has resulted in drastically reduced health risks for everyone. In parts of the world where disposable materials are in short supply, hospital-acquired infections are far more common. In locations where there are ample supplies of single-use syringes and gowns, however, more patients are able to leave the hospital without having suffered more health problems inside.
Outside of Medical Facilities
Besides hospitals and doctors’ offices, a variety of businesses benefit from having disposable supplies on hand. For example, tattoo shops use disposable gloves and tattoo needles to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis. Acupuncture clinics also use single-use needles that prevent the spread of infection. Electrology, the removal of hair by electrical stimulation, also benefits from the use of disposable supplies in the form of throw-away probes and gloves. These cases highlight the importance of disposable supplies in service markets outside of the medical field.
Patients and other consumers enjoy big benefits from having disposable supplies for self-administered medical procedures as well as routine usage. The peace of mind granted by single-use baby wipes, for example, is valued by many parents. Insulin-dependent diabetic patients can safely check blood glucose and self-administer insulin on a daily basis thanks to disposable lancets, syringes and other items. There is never any concern about whether prior users or medical facilities have properly sanitized these items because consumers buy them in sterile packaging and can throw them away after a single use.
Many household items used by consumers are also disposable medical supplies but are easily taken for granted. Dental floss, diapers, bandaids and toothbrushes were all formerly used only in medical settings but are now widely available to consumers. Whether used in medical facilities or at home, disposable medical supplies offer peace of mind and a greater guarantee of physical health compared to supplies that must be sterilized with each use. As these supplies become available to more people around the world, the risk of deadly infection will be further reduced for the benefit of us all.