5 Ways Plastic Has Shaped The Medical Field

Many modern industries have been revolutionized by the use of plastic as a key material. The endless possibilities brought about by the replacement of old resources with plastics have certainly helped the development of modern medicine as much if not more so than almost any other field. These are just a few of plastic’s more outstanding applications.

Disposable Products

This is something that is taken for granted in our contemporary throw away culture, but that has not always been the case. With the advent of items like disposable syringes, blood bags, and tubing, the spreading of infection and disease in hospitals dropped so significantly that medicine will never be the same. There is now a nearly endless list of disposable products used in a variety of medical settings that are considered absolutely essential in day to day operations.


By considerably reducing cost and greatly increasing availability, plastic has given those in need of artificial body parts access they previously did not have to high quality products. With the integration of 3D printing, development in the field has progressed further than what was ever imagined to be possible. Cosmetic and corrective medicine have also benefited greatly. And those seeking to enhance a specific part of their body will find surgery safer and cheaper than ever before.

Containment Products

There are an incredible number of ways that medical containers have changed from plastics. The different types of casings on pills – especially the addition of time release characteristics — have greatly improved oral medications. Also childproof caps and tamper evident disposable packaging have made medicine much safer to purchase and to keep in the home.

Home Health Care

This is a burgeoning area of medicine that could not exist without the products made available by plastic. Gone are the days of having a nurse on standby to rush your elderly parents, terminally ill, or post surgery family members to the hospital. With newly affordable plastic machines, and unlimited access to the necessary disposable products, we can all have mini-hospitals in our homes, making it much more comfortable to care for the ones that we love in their time of need.


Dentistry has also become a much more hygienic practice since the advent of plastics. Air/water and suction tips are all made of plastic for disposal after a single use. Fluoride and teeth whitening trays can be tossed after a single use rather than needing to be scrubbed after each patient. And of course, plastic makes fresh floss and toothbrushes inexpensive and readily accessible for patients to take better care of their teeth from home. Even braces can be made from invisible plastic now.

Plastic is truly a miracle for modern healthcare. All of the most innovative medical procedures and technologies are entirely dependent on it. So while we argue about how to save the planet from our excessive waste, it might also be important to remember what we use to save lives.