Packaging immersion experience links packaging professionals, medical workers

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Laura Bix (view larger image)

In an emergency room, precious seconds save lives. They are seconds that cannot be wasted, especially on getting a medical device to work properly or finding out that the packaging on a life-saving device has changed.

“There’s a lot involved in designing medical devices and packaging,” said MABR packaging scientist Laura Bix.

Bix and her colleagues in the MSU School of Packaging and the MSU colleges of Human Medicine, Nursing and Osteopathic Medicine teamed up with Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging, a Grand Rapids producer of sterile-grade medical device packaging, to host the nation’s first “Healthcare Packaging Immersion Experience” for medical device professionals and health-care practitioners Oct. 7-8.

The simulation, held at the MSU Learning and Assessment Center (LAC), served as a pilot, with 15 packaging and health-care professionals participating from across the nation. The simulation was designed to allow senior-level medical device packaging professionals to experience the contextual performance of medical packaging in the operating room and emergency department.

Participants also discussed packaging challenges and possible solutions with nurses and doctors.

“Our goal was to provide a bridge between the people designing and manufacturing the devices and packaging and the real world,” Bix said. “It’s important to know how what you, as a packaging engineer, produce affects outcomes in the emergency or operating rooms. The simulation was very instructive for these groups.”

Mary Kay Smith, acting director of the LAC and coordinator of simulation operations, said having participants experience a simulated surgery and an emergency trauma event can be extremely important.

“Packaging engineers and manufacturers are, generally speaking, not physicians or technicians in either the emergency or the operating rooms,” Smith said. “Simulations provide an opportunity to evaluate how devices work—and don’t—in a safe environment. Ultimately, this can lead to better quality patient care.”

Assessing medical devices and packaging in simulated situations is ideal, said Jane Severin, director of technology at Oliver-Tolas.

“As a producer of packaging used by medical device manufacturers, it’s critical that we know the sterile packaged device works every time,” she said. “That’s why a partnership with Michigan State University is important. We are able to combine the strength of our corporate packaging expertise with top-notch researchers at the MSU School of Packaging and excellent facilities such as the LAC to provide solutions to issues facing the medical packaging industry.”

MSU is the only university in the world to bring together faculty members from colleges of Human Medicine, Nursing, Osteopathic Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and a School of Packaging, so it is logical that the institution hosts an event such as this.

“We want to know how all the different elements come together to create a situation that is optimal or not in order to work together to, literally, save lives,” Bix said.

The event was sponsored by Glenroy, Inc., DuPont, Multivac, Inc., Constantia Flexibles, and BrandWatch Technologies.

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