Medical Device Packaging: What You Need to Know

Medical devices are crucial to treating patients and giving them the best quality of life possible. These handy tools are incredibly important to hospitals, doctors, patients, and healthcare facilities across the world. Almost as important as the device itself is the packaging it arrives in. Medical device packaging must ensure that the product arrives safely and hygienically to the end user or the entire item will be compromised and unusable.  

What are Medical Devices? 

For good reason, medical devices include a very broad range of products. At the most basic level, we define these tools as any device that is intended for medical use or purpose.

They help doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals diagnose and treat patients all across the globe. According to the United States FDA, this means that a medical device can be anything from a simple stethoscope or tongue depressor all the way up to more complicated pacemakers or CAT scan machines and beyond.  

The Necessary Functions of Medical Device Packaging 

Like all other types of packaging, there are a few requirements that medical device packaging must absolutely fulfill. The two primary necessities are sterility and safety. Medical devices must arrive to their end users completely hygienic and free of harmful bacteria or contaminants. Should these tools be compromised during transit or storage, they cannot be used by healthcare providers or their patients, which could result in a delay or loss of potentially lifesaving treatment. In addition to providing a sterile environment for storage, shipping, and handling, medical device packaging must also offer premium protection. It needs to keep the product safe from any external elements that may cause damage. For example, the normal bumps and vibrations that come along with standard truck transportation could lead to shaking inside the package. This means you need to utilize enough protective packaging materials to protect the medical device from these vibrations and shocks.  

Start Your Medical Device Packaging Process Early 

As a manufacturer of medical devices, you’re sure to understand that the research, development, and creation of them can take a very long time. There are many phases of testing and practice that help you determine what version of your device will offer the best treatment to patients. Similar to device manufacturing, the packaging development process can also take a long time. In order to figure out which materials will offer the best protection and sterilization, a variety of testing will need to take place. This means that as soon as you have a prototype of your device available, you should begin trying out different protective packaging materials. However, any changes that are made on the final version of the device must also be tested, because even small changes can have big impacts. 

Sweat the Small Stuff 

You may remember the adage “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Well, when it comes to medical device packaging, that advice should definitely be ignored. Because certain elements of the packaging are so important – namely, sterility and protection – it is absolutely essential that every aspect of your device and its packaging be thoughtfully considered. For example, during testing you may realize that a new component on the device is a little larger than on previous versions. You may think this isn’t a big deal since you can still squeeze your product into its packaging pretty well. However, bumps and shifts during transit may cause the larger piece to puncture or tear the protective materials that surround it. This could lead to oxygen or moisture seeping into the overall package, which would desterilize the medical device and render it unusable. If this happens in multiple packages, not only will your devices become useless, you’ll also end up losing quite a bit of money to replacement and recovery costs. 

Always Consider the Patients and Healthcare Workers 

Throughout your entire medical device packaging research and decision-making process, you must always remember the most important people involved: the healthcare workers who will use the products and the patients receiving treatment with them. The end users need your devices for potentially life-saving treatment or, at the very least, quality of life improvements. Should your medical devices arrive to them compromised or unusable, this will result in a delay in treatment or their decision to seek other options. Not only does this harm your customers, but it will also hurt your bottom line and longevity as a business.  

Important Packaging for an Important Product 

Though the variety of products that fall into the medical device category is wide, all of them are important. These types of materials provide lifesaving care and quality of living improvements to patients across the globe. This means that the packaging we use to protect them as they travel from our warehouses and offices to the healthcare facilities and homes where they are used is also vital. High-quality medical device packaging allows you to give your customers the very best treatment while also protecting your bottom line.