Respecting the Sanitary Guidelines: 3 Types of Medical Device Coatings Explained

Safety is the priority when it comes to medical devices, which is why healthcare professionals need to consider sanitation and biocompatibility when choosing a coating. To further complicate the...
Respecting the Sanitary Guidelines: 3 Types of Medical Device Coatings Explained

Safety is the priority when it comes to medical devices, which is why healthcare professionals need to consider sanitation and biocompatibility when choosing a coating. To further complicate the situation, those responsible for choosing coatings need to balance cost and efficiency with the all-important issue of patient safety.

When choosing the right medical device coatings, education is key. That’s why this article will present information about the three main types of medical device coatings so that healthcare executives can make an informed decision. Read on to get started.

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Antimicrobial Coatings

Medical equipment and devices that come into contact with the human body need to be coated with an antimicrobial substance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in healthcare settings. This is also the case for devices designed for implantation into the human body. Most experts agree that Parylene is the best coating for medical devices that will come into direct contact with patients’ bodies.

Parylene is hydrophobic, which means it doesn’t react to water and doctors can thus use it to coat moisture-sensitive equipment. It’s also biostable and biocompatible, which means that medical implants like pacemakers, stents, and catheters coated in Parylene conformal coating are safe for use. Its pinhole-free coverage makes it perfect for a wide variety of medical applications.

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Lubricant Coatings

Lubricant coatings also need to be antimicrobial and to meet the FDA’s strict biocompatibility and hemocompatibility standards. Medical lubricants can’t expand or flake off when they come into contact with bodily fluids, and they need to reduce both static and kinetic friction to be effective.

Doctors and nurses use lubricants primarily to make it easier and more comfortable to insert medical devices into biological openings. A healthcare professional who needs to insert a catheter, for example, won’t be able to do so without causing his or her patient pain if they don’t use lubricants.

Some medical lubricants also contain substances designed to act as topical anesthetics. Healthcare professionals must choose what kind of lubricants to use based on their intended application.

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Hydrophilic Surface Coatings

Some medical devices require hydrophilic coatings. These specialized coatings react with water, making polymeric devices susceptible to fluids for applications that require devices like tubes to be wetted.

Some surface coatings are permanently hydrophilic, while others are only transiently hydrophilic and will stop conducting fluids over time. Both permanently and transiently hydrophilic coatings work by grafting polymers that make it easier for water to bind to the materials used in medical devices. Like the other medical coatings described above, hydrophilic coatings must meet the FDA’s guidelines for biocompatibility.

The FDA has strict guidelines for all forms of medical device coatings for good reasons. The agency wants to reduce the risk of spreading infectious disease between patients while simultaneously that healthcare providers have access to the tools they need to effectively and efficiently perform surgical and diagnostic procedures. Only FDA-approved coatings designed explicitly for use with medical devices should be used in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings.

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The Bottom Line

Patient safety should always be the top priority at healthcare facilities. Choosing the right medical device coatings will help to avoid pain and decrease the risk of transmitting dangerous infections to already compromised patients. Doctors and nurses need access to all three of these forms of medical coatings to ensure patient safety and comfort and to decrease the risk of spreading disease.

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