How to buy disposable ambulance supplies

When purchasing disposable EMS supplies, consider these seven points

Updated Oct. 30, 2017

The act of cleaning patient care, assessment and transport devices is a significant challenge for many EMS services. There are many disposable ambulance supplies to consider as alternatives to reusable items. For example, single-use disposable linens replace linens that require laundering.

When purchasing disposable supplies, consider these seven points:

Ensure if blood pressure cuffs are replaced with disposable cuffs, they are disposed of after each use.
Ensure if blood pressure cuffs are replaced with disposable cuffs, they are disposed of after each use. (Photo/

1. Availability of bulk purchasing discounts 

Is the money saved for a bulk purchase enough to offset the cost of storage and potential risk of being outdated?

2. Implementation of disposable ambulance supplies into day-to-day use

If blood pressure cuffs are replaced with disposable cuffs, will they get used and will they be disposed of after each use? Providers may not understand the risk of transmitting infection and continue to use a disposable supply on multiple patients.

3. Understanding true costs of equipment cleaning and maintenance

What is the true cost of a reusable linen program to your EMS service and its suppliers? If it is the actual cost of laundering, storing and distributing sheets and blankets, it may substantially exceed the cost of switching to disposables.

4. Talk to current customers about disposable supplies

What is the reliability record of disposable equipment suppliers? Will they be able to respond to a localized or regional surge in demand? For example, during a pandemic influenza, demand for disposable linens may significantly increase in concentrated geographic areas.

5. Determine appropriate level of inventory to have on hand

How much of an item will you need to have on hand to ensure that you don’t run out between orders? How quickly can you be resupplied without incurring substantial shipping and handling costs?

6. Verifiable improvement in patient care

How will a disposable product improve patient care or reduce risk of infection transmission?

7. Compare the data before and after implementation

Has the conversion to a disposable supply led to a reduction in costs, infection transmission, patient satisfaction, or assessment errors?

Disposable supplies are also an alternative to consider for multiple patient events. FSI North America distributes a disposable backboard that is packaged with straps, a head immobilizer and a cervical collar.

Any other suggestions for purchasing disposable supplies? What types of disposable supplies have worked well for your service? Anything we missed in the list above? Leave a comment below or email with your feedback.

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