Medical carts are essential equipment in any caregiving facility, often containing valuable or sensitive items, such as the emergency medications in a crash cart. This equipment is sometimes targeted for theft or abuse, creating safety and legal concerns.
Protecting carts and other medical devices from tampering is critical, but medical facilities cannot afford to trade access speed for security. Security seals are one of the most efficient ways to add security to medical carts and other devices without hindering medical personnel.
What Security Seals Are
A security seal (also known as a tamper-evident seal) is a small device intended to complete an existing safety protocol and provide evidence of usage. If the protected container or device has been used, opened, or tampered with by unauthorized personnel, a broken or missing seal serves as tamper evidence.
It is critical to understand that seals are not additional locking or identifying mechanisms, like a padlock or a biometric reader. Instead, they are designed mainly for use in tandem with existing systems. For example, you may use a plastic padlock seal alongside a traditional padlock or a mechanical lock on a crash cart.
Used medical carts may not always feature modern, tamper-proof security measures, such as biometric readers or keycard scanners. Security seals are an inexpensive solution that can help you stay within budget without compromising security.
Types of Security seals
Security seals for medical equipment exist in many forms, each intended for different, specific applications.
Plastic padlock seals
One of the most well-known seal types is the plastic padlock seal. They are typically flat pieces of colored plastic. Although you may find any type of security seal in a hospital, clinic, or another caregiving facility, plastic padlock seals are the most common.
Each seal features a unique identification code and may possess write-on stickers or engraved names, such as the name of a specific doctor or caregiver. They are available in a wide range of sizes, colors, and form factors for engravings and identification numbers, offering the most versatility for patient care environments.
Plastic padlock seals are inexpensive and usually sold by the thousand. They are easy to install and break, making them ideal for use on medical carts featuring padlock loops, used in conjunction with a standard padlock at the top of the cart.
A hasp seal is a plastic padlock seal with a metal wire shackle instead of an all-plastic construction. The wire is typically galvanized or stainless steel, with a diameter no higher than 0.05”.
Hasp seals are more tamper-resistant than plastic padlocks, as the metal wire can withstand a higher tensile strength. The body resembles a plastic pull tab and comes in two designs: with or without a scored wire. Scored-wire hasp seals can be broken by hand, whereas unscored models require cutters.
Like plastic padlocks, hasp seals are relatively inexpensive and bought in bulk. They offer a good compromise between the durability of a cable seal and the fast access of a plastic padlock seal.
A cable seal is a wire cable lock similar in principle to bike locks but with a non-reusable plastic body. The main component of a cable seal is aluminum wire (usually 1⁄16” thick), making it naturally resistant to cutting.
Like with plastic padlock seals, cable seals feature plastic bodies available in a wide range of colors, each featuring a unique identifying number. They may also come with a write-on surface or an engraving for a caregiver’s name.
Once installed and locked, a cable seal can only be opened with a cable cutter or by physically destroying the body.
Due to their relative durability, cable seals are not recommended for crash carts or emergency medical applications. However, they can be used in a hospital or clinic’s storage facility as a field-expedient, temporary replacement for a padlock. They are also an excellent choice for securing medical waste before disposal.
As they are more complex than hasp seals or plastic padlocks, cable seals are heavier and more expensive.
Applications of Security Seals
Although security seals are primarily intended to serve as evidence of opening or tampering, they can also be used as a means of product identification by assigning a color to a specific item. In hospital environments, these dual purposes have many critical applications.
Crash cart management
The Joint Commission recommends that all caregiving facilities employ proper crash cart preparedness methods to ensure your personnel are ready to address life-threatening emergencies.
One of the most common issues outlined by the Joint Commission is crash cart security. Your facility can address this issue easily and inexpensively with the proper use of security seals, serving as a potential deterrent from theft and as evidence of tampering.
They are a cost-effective method of reinforcing existing locking mechanisms and security systems.
Color-coding medical equipment packages
Essential and sensitive medical supplies are frequently packaged and protected with colored plastic padlock seals. A given medical facility may use color-coding to identify the contents of a specific package.
For example, a hospital may use red padlocks for sensitive drugs and substances (narcotics, opiates, etc.), yellow for sharps disposal or biohazard containers, white for oxygen tanks, green for personal protective equipment, and pink for electronics.
Securing sensitive medical equipment
Certain types of medical equipment are secured with security seals after use, servicing, or calibration, allowing the facility to keep track of legitimate usage while ensuring the device has not been accessed, altered, or tampered with by unauthorized personnel.
Protecting test samples
If your facility features a laboratory or needs to store sensitive test samples, using security seals with unique identifying codes may be necessary to ensure each sample is secure and correctly assigned to each patient.
Medical waste disposal
According to OSHA guidelines, all medical waste must be stored in an appropriate biohazard container and secured appropriately to prevent accidental or unauthorized exposure.
Examples include the following: used sharps and needles, meds or drugs past their expiration date, organs, body parts, dialysis waste, human blood and other bodily fluids, infectious agents, and objects and materials contaminated with blood or pathogens.
Using security seals and proper color-coding procedures is an ideal way to ensure that medical waste containers remain identifiable, closed, and secure at all times until ready for incineration or destruction.
Security seals have numerous other potential applications for healthcare facilities and caregiving environments. Some facilities may use them to seal tote bags, pouches, electric meters, and many other objects and devices.
Improve Your Caregiving Preparedness With Scott-Clark Medical
At Scott-Clark Medical, our mission is to help you care for others by providing you with the best and safest medical carts on the market. We offer a range of patented medication and point-of-care carts, designed with safety and convenience in mind and built using durable, low-maintenance materials. Contact us today at (512)-756-7300 for a quote or more information.