Premier healthcare alliance provides members comprehensive latex-free catalog

CONTACT:
Safety Institute
Premier healthcare alliance
704.733.5865

10 percent of the population is allergic to latex

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (February 20, 2008) – The Premier healthcare alliance today announced the availability to Premier members of the group purchasing industry's most comprehensive latex-free catalog that identifies latex-free products for employees, patients and physicians with latex allergies. The 600-page catalog contains 16,675 items in 250 product groups representing 445 suppliers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 10 people are sensitive to natural rubber latex. Among individuals with latex allergies, repeated exposure to latex results in sensitization and increased risk of allergic reactions. High risk groups for latex sensitization include healthcare workers and patients with early and repeated exposures to latex, such as infants with congenital spina bifida having multiple surgeries.

Latex allergic reactions can range from mild skin rashes to severe and life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Since no known cure for latex allergy exists, avoidance of latex exposure is the only protection.

“Hospitals want to be able to provide latex-free environments to ensure allergy-free environments for patients and staff,” said Premier Safety Institute Vice President Gina Pugliese, “but to accomplish this they need accurate and easily accessible information to select and purchase products that are free of latex.”

Claire Rupert RN, Division Director, Value Analysis at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Ky., which beta tested the catalog, said, "We have been on a several-year journey at Norton Healthcare to eliminate latex products. With Premier's latex-free catalog, our clinicians are better able to identify latex-free products to address safety concerns for latex-allergic patients and staff.”

During an opportunity to access the new catalog in December, Rupert said, “It was well received. The updated version was posted on our internal portal in January, and our nurses can directly access it now by a hyperlink in our Carelink system where charting is done. What a tremendous asset.”

The Premier Safety Institute also features an entire publicly available Web site devoted to preventing latex allergies among patients, employees and physicians. The site – www.premierinc.com/safety – offers a plethora of tools, resources and information to address this healthcare challenge

In addition to the latex-free catalog, Premier's online automated contract management system, Supply Chain Advisor, is searchable for products with environmentally preferable attributes, including latex.

“The terminology in Supply Chain Advisor has been standardized to enable searching for individual products that are latex-free, mercury-free, or DEHP-free,” Pugliese said. “Latex allergies and other environmental health issues are an ongoing concern with possible serious reactions among hospital staff and patients.”

A federal law that took effect in 1997 requires medical products with latex to specify that they contain latex. However, there is no requirement that products be labeled “latex free,” causing confusion for the medical community. Premier identified that inconsistency and took steps to offer a solution.

Pugliese said Premier and its members “are especially indebted to our staff, including the group purchasing Sourcing Team, the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Champions and the data management staff, who worked tirelessly on this project. They kept their eyes on the prize – improved safety for patients, employees and physicians – and got the job done.”

The latex-free catalog is accessible to Premier members through Supply Chain Advisor and the Premier Safety Institute Web site at www.premierinc.com/safety.