Kaiser Permanente has made a major step in its program to reduce its use of chemicals of concern, announcing this week that it will switch to IV bags that do not use PVC and DEHP and IV tubing without DEHP. PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) plastic and the phthalate DEHP (di-2-ethyl hexyl phthalate) used to make it flexible are both widely used in medical products and have been shown to have a wide range of harmful effects on health. Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the US, purchases almost 5 million IV tubing sets and over 9 million solution bags each year totaling nearly 100 tons of medical equipment.
This move is only the latest in ongoing work by Kaiser Permanente to address the chemical content of the products it uses. Kaiser Permanente played an important role in the development of the Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC), the first green guidance document for designing health care buildings, and collaborated with the Healthy Building Network in 2004 on a challenge to the carpet industry that resulted in the development of new PVC-free carpet offerings with high recycled content. More recently, Kaiser Permanente advanced its commitment to greening its medical equipment with the introduction of its Sustainability Scorecard to evaluate the environmental and health impacts of each medical item it purchases and encourage suppliers to provide greener products for health care.