An interview with Keith Parkin

17th December 2013 - Fine Cut

Keith Parkin is a specialist in the production of medical labels at Fine Cut. He spoke about the purpose of medical labels, as well as their importance for both businesses and consumers alike.

Why is it so important for business and consumers to ensure they pay attention to labels on medical products?

This is a two-fold answer depending on which product we are dealing with. With electrical medical devices, we need to be aware of the regulations that govern the manufacture of the product. The directives will ensure that the products are made to the highest standard and they will have the consumers' best interest at the forefront for safety issues. From a consumer's point of view, it is important that the information supplied by the manufacturer is adhered to, as it is the critical information required by law for them to be aware of for the safe use of the product.

With ever-changing regulations from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, it is essential that both suppliers and consumers are aware of any legislative guidelines or restrictions on or any substance that could be detrimental to the wellbeing of the end user. With the average life expectancy increasing, the emphasis is moving to promoting healthy diets - especially with diabetes running high, information carried on labels play a big part in educating the public.

In what ways can hospitals benefit from having clearly labelled products and equipment?

Having clearly labelled equipment provides important details on how well the machine has been maintained, thus ensuring it is working to its best potential. Labels also provide important information for the medical library team who loan equipment to many locations within a trust. Medical engineering teams are responsible for the general upkeep of machines, which rely on all data including next test due dates to manage the workload and scheduling of equipment.

Having clear instructions on all medical equipment will ensure that the patient receives first-rate care.

What type of substances do medical labels need to be resistant against?

The main ingredient that is used for cleaning medical equipment is IPA and a water and bleach solution, although this also depends on the risk that is put on to the equipment. High-risk machines may be put through decontamination, a mid-risk piece of equipment may have decontamination or disinfectant, while a low-risk piece of equipment will be cleaned normally.

How can manufacturers ensure that consumers pay more attention to medical labels?

This is quite often a hard ask, as consumers do not really want their products to be covered with labels. The important thing is to get a balance between a label that shows critical information and a label that is still large enough to be visible for the end user to read.

Generally, labels contain information that is required by the Medical Device Directive legislation, which became mandatory on March 21st 2010.

A recent study published by the Yorkshire Evening Post suggests that the public ignore important information on medical products. What are your thoughts on this?

Everybody is in such a hurry these days, and they will only review the basic operating functions. If a piece of equipment works, they will go along happily using the same process, thus ignoring the finer user instructions that would allow them to become more competent in the use of the tool. Today's 'impatient society' is breeding ignorance.

What are the most common uses for Fine Cut's medical labels?

Electrical safety labels for medical equipment, asset identification for medical equipment, decontamination labels, sample identification labels for clinical trial collection tubes, samples identification labels for product tubes, reagents and other research and development solutions.

As part of Fine Cut's design process, do you have to take any special steps when producing labels for hospital/medical use?

There are currently no special measures employed for the production of labels as  labels are not required to be used in a clean room or lint free environment, although some of the labels we manufacture are sent through for eradication by  the client so they can be used in a clean room environment.

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