Medical Supplies Used in Common Procedures

Medical supplies have been identified as one of the largest expenditures in most healthcare organizations' budgets, second only to staffing. Managing a hospital's supply chain is an extremely complex undertaking, fraught with opportunities for inefficiency at every step of the process. Reducing the cost of supplies is a top priority for executives at all types and sizes of healthcare organizations.

With financial pressure on healthcare organizations increasing, supply chain managers are making purchasing decisions very carefully. They must analyze the need for supplies, identify exactly what is required, evaluate options, and plan for a careful introduction of and support for the products they select.

Hospitals and other medical facilities can purchase supplies through a group purchasing organization or negotiate directly with distributors or wholesalers, all of whom are doing a larger share of their business online. Patients who find themselves needing to get supplies on their own often seek them from medical supply stores that sell to the public and chains such as Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart.

So there are many ways to get medical supplies and equipment into the hands of medical professionals, and even to people administering medical care or performing a procedure on themselves at home. But what types of procedures are most common, and what supplies are used?

I.V. Start Kits

Close up of nurse setting up intravenous saline drip

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In the hospital or nursing home, it is common to find patients who need fluids or medicine dripped into their bloodstream by way of an intravenous bag, tube and needle, and securement device.

The procedure is so common that some hospital supply teams have been assembling their own IV start kits for decades. Distributors have been selling their own pre-packaged IV start kits for a while now too. These kits are used for the procedure of starting the IV in the patient. Some common supplies in this kit include:

  • Prep, scrub, and alcohol pads
  • PVP ampule (for further infection prevention steps),
  • Gloves
  • Securement device

Central Line Dressing Change Trays

Central Venous Catheter Insertion

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Like IV start kits, there are pre-packaged trays that can be purchased with everything a nurse needs to change the dressing around a central line IV. Performing this procedure is important and very detailed work with the risk of a central line infection at stake.

Standard Procedures and General Purpose Procedures

Clamp and Gauze

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Still primarily used by healthcare professionals on a patient, general purpose procedure kits contain medical supplies that are used routinely in multiple procedures. For example, general procedures include:

Supplies you'll find in general purpose and standard procedure kits can include:

  • Gloves
  • Compartment tray
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Gauze
  • Other tools such as forceps, scissors, and scalpels

Laceration Procedures

Wound´s stitches. Close up.

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Laceration procedures treat cuts. They clean them, close them, and protect them for healing and repair. Supplies often include:

  • Needles
  • Syringes
  • Needle-holders
  • Medicine cups
  • Towels
  • Gauze
  • Compartment trays
  • Scissors
  • Forceps

Procedures That Diagnose

Aneroid sphygmomanometer - Mechanical blood pressure gauge

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Many procedures are performed with the intention to treat, but some are performed with the goal of screening a patient for a diagnosis. Here are some examples:

  • Sphygmomanometers (blood pressure kits) test blood pressure to screen for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes to name a few.
  • Ophthalmoscopes are used to look into the patient's eye during an eye exam.
  • Stethoscopes are used to listen to heart sounds to make sure the heartbeat is healthy in strength and rhythm, to listen to the lungs during inhalation and exhalation of breath, and even blood flow in the arteries and veins.
  • Electrocardiographs measure the electrical activity of the heart to screen for various forms of heart disease.
  • Thermometers, used at home and in healthcare treatment facilities, are used to determine body temperature in an attempt to screen for various health conditions.

Diabetic Procedures

Senior Doing Blood Sugar Test

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There are medical supplies that diabetics can use at home and take with them during travel because these tools are intended for self-administered procedures, such as:

  • Glucose meters, lancets, lancet drums, glucose test strips to check the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.
  • Hydrogel and other ointments to care for the frequent needle-stick wounds created by frequent blood glucose testing.
  • Insulin syringes, to inject insulin shots when needed.
  • Sharps disposal containers, so that the needle can be safely disposed of at home after one of these diabetic procedures are performed.
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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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