General Question

silky1's avatar

When did hospitals start using plastic IV bags instead of the glass ones?

Asked by silky1 (1485 points ) August 24th, 2011

And why?

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6 Answers

gasman's avatar

Late 1970s, as I recall.
Whether it was for safety, convenience, or economy I couldn’t say. Definitely an improvement.

gondwanalon's avatar

Plastic IV bags are more versatile in that they can be put into an elastic sheath for fast under pressure infusing. Also they don’t break easily like glass,

Lightlyseared's avatar

The plastic bag collapses when the fluid runs in to the vein while with a glass bottle you need to add a air inlet to allow air in to replace the fluid. With out it the fluid won’t run.

While it seems logical that plastic is stonger than glass in reality it turns out to be the other way round. Certain high value IV fluids (human albumin for example) are always supplied in glass bottles as they are less prone to breaking in transit. Also most IV meds are supplied in glass viles for the same reason.

gasman's avatar

@Lightlyseared I’m not sure why albumin is still packaged mostly in glass bottles, but it might have to do with chemical stability rather than resistance to breakage. Medical nitroglycerin is soluble in most plastics and is also packaged in glass. Nowadays most iv meds in general (both commercial read-to-hang products & those made by a pharmacy) are supplied in plastic bags.The 1-liter glass iv bottles used through 1970s, however, were quite strong and rarely broke unless dropped.

@gondwanalon Yes, it’s much easier to squeeze a plastic bag than to pressurize a glass bottle. Safer for the worker (no exploding glass) and safer for the patient (no air embolism).

Lightlyseared's avatar

@gasman apparantly you can get albumin in a bag (it’s called Flexbumin – do you see what they did there?)

gasman's avatar

I found this online article, from drugs .com, announcing FDA approval of Flexbumin, 2005:

Historically, albumin has been packaged in glass bottles as a result of technical requirements related to manufacturing, including inertness, sturdiness and a high water vapor and oxygen barrier that no single plastic material has been able to fulfill.

Flexbumin uses Baxter’s…proprietary multi-layer system that helps maintain albumin quality and allows the solution to be stored at room temperature.

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