Home Articles How Seals Are Used in the Medical Industry

How Seals Are Used in the Medical Industry

Patients in the hospital or medical facilities rely on doctors and nurses to give them the proper medications in the right doses, correctly interpret bloodwork and tests to come up with diagnoses and otherwise practice medicine in a safe and highly accurate manner.

Interestingly, it is not just the medical staff that must be top-notch. The tiniest little seals inside a number of different types of medical equipment must also work properly; if they don’t, it can literally be a matter between life and death.

In addition to making sure seals must meet all FDA compliance rules and regulations, there are a number of other challenges related to the use of o-rings and other seals in the medical industry. Let’s start by looking at some of the equipment that contains at least one seal and then the issues that may arise along the way.

Common Uses of Seals

In general, medical seals are designed to protect both the person and the device from leaking fluids that could be harmful. They are used in equipment that involves gas or liquids being pumped, contained, drained or dispensed.

For example, a feeding tube works by supplying nutrients, liquids and medicines to a person who is having trouble swallowing. Having the right seals and gaskets are essential to the tube working correctly and not allowing the liquid food to enter the person’s body too quickly. Artificial hearts also contain seals, as do medical pumps, IV units, kidney dialysis machines, blood transfusion equipment and heart-lung machines. You will also find seals in medical supplies that don’t actually come in contact with patients, including sterilization equipment and medical cabinets.

Issues That Must Be Avoided

If a seal fails, it may give a patient either too large a drug dose or not enough. One way to prevent this from happening is by being sure that the correct material is used for the seals — especially when it comes in contact with human tissue, bodily fluids, drugs or other liquids that are vital to the health of the patient. For instance, an o-ring that is made from silicone is used quite a bit in the medical industry; its resilience and the material itself is able to meet the challenges of many medical applications.

Handle Seals With Care

Once rubber seals, gaskets and o-rings are produced, they must be handled carefully. They cannot merely be placed into a large bin and scooped out as needed. Instead, they are usually washed with deionized water and then are double-bagged for shipment to safeguard against contamination; this will keep them very clean and dust-free on their way to the plant that is making the medical equipment.

Medical Seals Carry Special Certifications

Seals that are used in medical equipment must also be certified to be suitable for this application. As noted earlier, the FDA is in charge of listing which rubber materials are approved as “safe.” In addition, the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) Class VI lists the very stringent requirements for the especially “clean” list of compounds for certain applications.

Rest Assured, the Seals Are Working Well and Correct

A lot of rules, regulations, cleaning and careful manufacturing go into the medical seals that are in use today. When you consider how one small circular ring of rubber can mean if someone lives or dies, it is reassuring to know that so much goes into making sure each and every medical seal is up for the task.



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