Often we see an opened package of self-adhesive electrode patches on top of code or EKG carts, or patches stored loosely in drawers in procedural areas. Various vendors manufacture these patches and many offer no explicit instruction on the package on how long they remain safe to use once the package is opened. Some go to the other extreme by instructing “do not use if the package is opened,” an instruction that many ignore thinking about the waste of throwing away seemingly good unused patches, rationalizing, why worry; if they stick well enough they most certainly are still good to use.
However, recently we’ve seen an uptick in survey findings on this issue as surveyors seem to be aware that, depending on the vendor and style of electrode, online or package insert instructions actually do specify that the patches need to have new expiration date applied once the package is opened. For example, the 3M brand “Red Dot” patch allows for the following:
3M bulk pack ECG monitoring electrodes (30 or greater/bag) have a 30-day open bag guarantee with the exception of the 2560 and 2570 which have a 45-day guarantee. The 2360 has a 7 day out-of-bag claim. The following electrodes do not have any out-of-bag claim: 2258, 2269T, 2280, 2282, 2283, 2284, 2330, 2352, 2660, and 2670.
Thus we advise informing the product evaluation committee or similar group to look into the instructions for use for the make and model of electrode patch(s) used in your hospital to study whether an expiration-dating process and procedure is needed wherever a package of electrodes is opened but not immediately used in their entirety.
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