First major design change to surgical packs in more than 30 years   

MUNDELEIN,Ill., March 6, 2013 — Medline Industries, Inc., today introduced the first-of-its kind surgical procedure pack identification system to help improve operating room efficiency, eliminate waste and enhance patient safety. Featuring easy-to-read color-coded labels and forms, Medline’s EMPOWER Packaging System is the first major design innovation for surgical procedure packs since they were initially used in the health care industry more than 30 years ago.

Launched at the 60thAnnual Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Congress held this week in San Diego,Calif., the EMPOWER system features easy-to-read, color-coded outer packing labels and matching color-coded insert forms that easily identify each pack and reduce the chance of selecting the wrong pack. Traditionally-designed procedure packs, however, look almost identical to each other – regardless of the specific surgical procedure. Most traditional packs are wrapped in blue surgical draping with no outer identification label and a hard-to-read packaging insert placed on top of it, which makes it virtually impossible to identify individual packs quickly and easily.   

“The EMPOWER Packaging System is based on an intuitive visual design to eliminate pack confusion,” said Kim Haines, RN, certified OR nurse, vice president of clinical resources for Medline. “The new design helps increase efficiency in the OR and eliminates waste because the large, easy-to-read color-coded label and matching insert form makes it easier and faster to choose the right pack and reduce the chance of picking the wrong one and having to discard it.”

In a recent survey conducted by Medline of more than 400 OR staff, 67 percent of the respondents said that the incidence of picking the incorrect pack occurs at least several times a year. At those facilities where the wrong pack was picked, 83 percent of the respondents said they either have to pull an entirely new pack or pull additional separate sterile items. 

Haines said that when the wrong pack is chosen, “Productivity slows and costs increase because additional sterile items or an entirely new pack must be pulled from stock.” Traditional pack inserts also make it difficult to find important information, such as the expiration date or latex content.  

The insert in the EMPOWER Packaging System has the following advantages:

  • Latex product identification – The color-coded product list, which is clearly visible on top of the pack and matches the color of the pack label, easily identifies latex items contained in the pack with a red highlight.
  • WHO Surgical Safety Checklist – The checklist helps clinicians minimize the most common and avoidable risks endangering the health of the surgical patients.    
  • Component utilization tool – This enables the clinician to improve pack efficiency and eliminate waste by documenting unused items that may be eliminated and additional separate sterile items that could be added to the pack. 

“Our philosophy at Medline is to develop products, programs and systems to make it hard for health care staff to do the wrong thing,” said Sue MacInnes, Medline’s chief marketing officer. “Our new EMPOWER Packaging System, with easy-to-read color-coded labels and packing information, is designed to make it virtually impossible for OR staff to select the wrong pack. In fact, it will actually help them do their job more efficiently and accurately.” 

About Medline

As the nation's largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of health care products, Medline manufactures and distributes more than 350,000 products to hospitals, extended care facilities, surgery centers, physician offices, home care agencies and providers, and retailers. Named one of the country’s "Best and Brightest Companies to Work For,”  Medline is headquartered in Mundelein, Ill. and has more than 1,100 dedicated sales representatives to support its broad product line and cost management services. For more information on Medline, go to

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John Marks (847) 951-2542