April 20, 2024
Single-Use Disposable Patient Positioning Products

Rise of Single Use Disposable Patient Positioning Products: Reducing Risk of Hospital Acquired Infections

Patient positioning is crucial in healthcare facilities to ensure comfort and proper medical care. However, reusable positioning products like pillows, sheets and straps pose infection risks if not properly disinfected between each patient use. This has driven the rapid adoption of single use disposable patient positioning products that can be discarded after one-time use.

Infection Control Challenges with Reusable Positioning Products

Reusable patient positioning accessories like pillows, wedges and straps have long been used in hospitals and clinics for tasks like positioning patients for surgery or maintaining posture during scans and procedures. However, they present significant infection risks due to difficulties in complete disinfection. Microbes can survive on fabric surfaces even after cleaning and sterilization processes. This is because fibers and crevices in material surfaces shield microbes from disinfectants.

Studies show that reusable pillows and positioning aids retain residual bacteria even after following cleaning protocols. These pathogens can then be transferred to subsequent patients, putting them at risk of hospital acquired infections. Places with heavy patient loads find it nearly impossible to resterilize all reusable products effectively between each patient use. This often leads to cross-contamination and spread of antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’.

Rise of Single Use Disposable Alternatives

To overcome infection risks of reusable products, Single-Use Disposable Patient Positioning Products accessories were introduced over the past decade. Made of breathable materials like non-woven fabric or foam, these products are used for a single patient and then discarded. As they are not reused, there is no risk of carrying infectious material from one patient encounter to the next.

Manufacturers ensure these products undergo sterilization processes like gamma irradiation before packaging and shipping to eliminate any microbes. Their lightweight, conforming designs made of hypoallergenic materials also provide good patient comfort during procedures. Lack of reuse cycle makes disposal cost-effective in the long run compared to costs of hospital acquired infections or litigation due to transmission of multi-drug resistant organisms.

Growing Acceptance and Adoption

Recent regulatory guidelines and standards have also strongly advocated use of disposable products to minimize infection risks where possible. Compliance requirements like those under Joint Commission International further accelerated their uptake. Hospitals and surgical centers started mandating single use positioning accessories produced by reputed medical device brands for high risk procedures.

Their ease of use and sterility assurance gave clinicians confidence in choosing disposables over reusable items which always carried an unknown risk of latent microbial load. Multiple studies comparing reusable pillows and sheets to single use alternatives showed reduced bioburden and infection rates when disposables were used. This helped gain more acceptance among patients as well who want assurance of hygienic care.

Conforming to changing standards, leading OEMs heavily invested in developing comprehensive disposable positioning portfolios incorporating features like breathability, conformability, strength and safety. Offering product lines for varied clinical needs boosted their appeal. Surgical tables and procedure beds also started integrating single use accessories directly in package deals to promote sterile workflows. This augmented uptake in hospitals across specialties beyond operating rooms.

Cost Benefit Analysis Favors Disposables

While initial cost of disposable positioning products is higher compared to reusable items, a detailed cost benefit study proves their overall economics favorable. Costs from hospital acquired infection outbreaks including extended patient stay, expensive treatment costs and loss of reputation far outweigh flat costs of disposables. Litigation payouts for negligently transmitting multi-drug resistant infections can run into millions.

When factoring in labor costs for reprocessing reusable items which involves intensive cleaning and sterilization cycles, consumables used, downtime during cleaning and potential revenue loss if items are unavailable – total costs are much higher for reusable positioning aids compared to simple procurement of sterilized and packaged disposables. This has made a strong case for switch to single use that promises safety, sterility assurance and absence of reprocessing costs or unknown microbial risk factors.

With growing emphasis on patient safety and infection control in today’s value-based care, single use disposable patient positioning products have become an important part of modern sterile medical workflows. Their hygienic and ready-to-use attributes help reduce risk of hospital acquired infections compared to reusable items. While initial costs are higher, detailed cost studies show them more economical in the long run. With supportive standards and guidelines, these products are rapidly replacing reusable accessories and will likely become the standard of care going forward.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it