Catholic Healthcare West Switches to PVC/DEHP-Free Products to Improve Patient Safety and Protect the Environment; $70 Million Contract Awarded to B. Braun for Supplies

Published on: 

SAN FRANCISCO -- Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) announced today that it has awarded a five-year, $70 million contract to B. Braun Medical Inc. for the supply of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)/ di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)-free intravenous (IV) bags, solutions, and tubing to the system's 40 hospitals in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

The contract award represents a significant victory in CHW's ongoing advocacy efforts with suppliers to ensure that products used in the hospital setting are safe for patients, employees, and the environment. CHW is the first major integrated delivery network to take such a strong position on the use of PVC/DEHP-free products.

"The care and safety of our patients is our first priority," said Lloyd H. Dean, president and chief executive officer of CHW. "We have been actively advocating for PVC/DEHP-free supplies from our vendors since 1997. B. Braun has stepped up to the challenge as the first supplier with the capacity to deliver PVC- and DEHP-free supplies to all 40 of our  hospitals."

Recent research has shown that DEHP, a chemical commonly used to soften PVC plastics, can leach into the infusion solution or blood contained in IV bags, and may cause reproductive harm to patients receiving intravenous care, especially male neonates and infants under one-year old. The state of California lists DEHP as a reproductive toxicant, and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR), the government agency that evaluates use of chemical agents in public health, is releasing an updated report on potential hazards of DEHP exposure from consumer and medical products.

By using PVC/DEHP-free products, CHW is eliminating approximately 840 tons of PVC/DEHP IV containers from both the patient care setting and the waste stream. Due to the lighter weight of materials, CHW is additionally reducing overall waste by 250 tons over the five-year course of the contract. Together, PVC and DEHP may represent long-term hazards to the health of patients as well as the environment, as the destruction of PVC results in the release of dioxins, a potent carcinogen.


"The CHW relationship is a significant milestone, as it marks the first major integrated delivery network contract driven by an institution's desire for conversion to PVC/DEHP-free products for the health and well-being of patients and the regional ecology," said Caroll H. Neubauer, chairman and chief executive officer of B. Braun Medical Inc. "This partnership underscores the value of our long-standing commitment to human and environmental health, and reinforces the market demand for PVC/DEHP-free products."

Currently, B. Braun is the only full-line manufacturer of basic IV solutions in PVC/DEHP-free containers and was among one of the first corporations to recommend minimizing PVC/DEHP use in hospital products. The B. Braun EXCEL and PAB IV Containers and DUPLEX Drug Delivery System delivered to CHW are manufactured in California.

 The transition to PVC/DEHP-free products is one of many environmental and patient safety policies CHW has in place. In 1996 CHW endorsed the CERES Principles for environmental protection and accountability and agreed to conduct regular audits of its environmental impacts and develop action plans for improvement.  In 2001 CHW adopted a Mercury Elimination Policy; today its hospitals are virtually mercury free. Since 2003, CHW has been engaged in a program of sustainable design. Several of the system's hospitals have undergone energy retrofits that have resulted in a savings of 11.6 million kWh of electricity and 833,000 therms of natural gas per year. In 2004, CHW became the first healthcare provider in the nation to commit to voluntarily measure and report all emissions of greenhouse gases through its membership in the California Climate Action Registry.

Source: Catholic Healthcare West