Can pulp-based products limit the risk of HAIs?

Possibly. But one thing we know for certain is that pulp-based products are more environmentally friendly than standard plastic hospital products.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2011, there were an estimated 722,000 healthcare associated infections (HAIs) in U.S. acute care hospitals (see chart below). Additionally, about 75,000 patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations. More than half of all HAIs occurred outside of the intensive care unit.

There is also mounting evidence that standard plastic basins of a variety of types including bath basins are sources of HAIs. The American Journal of Critical Care reported that some form of bacteria grew in 98% of bath basins from 3 acute care hospitals. Justine O'Flynn, RN and infection control liaison for Kosair Children's Hospital said, "Based on my own research, I would say it is very likely that bath basins increase the potential for HAIs."

We are at last starting to see reprocessed pulp-based items enter the hospital product market at competitive prices that could make many plastic products like bath basins a thing of the past.

Here are the top attributes of pulp-based common, commoditized hospital products.

Recycled source material
New pulp-based hospital products are made from recycled paper. Not only are they an outstanding example of reuse, naturally they are also absent the petroleum based materials necessary for the production of any plastic product making them substantially more environmentally friendly from the outset.

Sterilized from the start
New pulp-based products are autoclaved in the factory at 270 degrees at the time of manufacture. Plastics can't withstand this temperature making them more susceptible to harboring bacteria from the moment they are produced to the moment they enter the point of patient care.

Capable
They are capable of holding liquids, including detergents, for up to two hours. The majority of these products are identical in the required capabilities to plastics.

Weight-saving
Once used, those liquids can then be strained out of the basin to save waste and recycling weight and the associated haul costs.

Are you already using pulp based products? Are you planning to add them to your product mix soon? We'd love hear about it.

About the author
Lorne Tritt is Founder and CEO of ASP Global. With headquarters in Atlanta and operations in the Pacific Rim, ASP is a leader in global sourcing strategies and programs that enable IDNs, hospitals and large group practices to take advantage of lower costs and improved quality in hospital medical supplies available through direct sourcing, an efficient supply chain model and the global marketplace.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.​

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