Plastics in Medicine: Built-In Disease Prevention
In many industries, from automotives to agriculture, plastics are consistently proving to be an advantageous material and are presenting new solutions to common problems. From energy efficiency and better environmental practices to lowering costs, innovations in the plastics industry are changing industries for the better.
The healthcare industry is one example. As hospitals and doctor’s offices continue to search for better ways to prevent the spread of disease and keep healthcare providers and their patients safe, plastics are helping to meet that demand. One of the latest and most exciting ways is through plastics that have built-in antimicrobial agents that help prevent the passing of germs.
These antimicrobial plastics are now being used throughout the country in healthcare centers, and are proving to be highly beneficial. Some plastics are considered inherently antimicrobial—possessing qualities that resist bacteria—while others are specifically being engineered and developed with antimicrobial agents and additives inside of them. Silver, for instance, is one additive that effectively penetrates and kills microbes.
While hospital staff members still need to be vigilant and clean all surfaces, these plastics help reduce and eliminate human error, by having a built-in cleaning agent already there, all the time. Because the cleaning agents and additives are present in the plastics from the initial manufacturing stage, and are ever-present, they continue to kill disease organisms that come into contact with the material.
Additionally, there are more plastics being developed that can stand up to constant sterilization without being affected by the different methods, and without having their performance compromised. Polyetherimide resin, for instance, has proven to be resistant to gamma rays, autoclaving, ethylene oxide, and hydrogen peroxide gas, meaning medical tools made of the material can be sterilized in a number of ways, and the material will hold up.
Plastics have been counted on by the medical industry for many years, and with the latest antimicrobial technology, they are now offering a specific solution to the industry’s needs, and a direct form of disease prevention.