AIBU to use out-of-date first aid items?(18 Posts)
Today I was checking through the first aid box at our local parent-run playgroup and noticed that a lot of the items are past their expiry date. But I don't understand how packets of plasters, bandages, disinfectant wash etc can actually go out of date? Do they actually become dangerous, is it that they become less potent (so more like a Best Before date), or is it just a manufacturers scam to increase sales?
WIBU to either leave them in the box at playgroup OR to take them home and add them to my own first aid box? Do I really have to bin perfectly good first aid supplies? I remember my mum's first aid box being an ancient selection of plasters and half empty tubes of Germolene, none of which ever got binned!
<happy sigh at the thought of the pink medicinal aroma>
The issue with bandages etc is that the packaging may no longer be sterile. The glue on plasters can get a bit weird. Not sure about the rest, but I suppose it could 'spoil'.
At work, we have to make sure the box is kept up to date, and bin stuff when it goes out of date. But that's to keep us covered for health & safety legislation, so I'm not sure if a parent-led group has to comply with anything like that.
Another parent, who is a nurse, said that if we keep them, then offer them to someone who uses them and they cause a reaction / make a wound go septic etc, they could sue us. Seems a bit extreme to me. Maybe we could put a disclaimer on the box to cover us.
I would think it would be the sticky bit of the plaster that would go off / loose its stick / start to break down. So therefore will not be affective as a dressing - a plaster that doesn't stick is as much use as a piece of paper at keeping a wound covered.
I guess it depends on whether other dressings contain any treatments which might degrade over time. If so then bin them, as you would out of date medications.
Also I would think that they may no longer be sterile after a certain date as the packaging on them starts to be affected by the environment. But that would probably be more likely quite a few years after the stamped date.
I think I would air on the side of caution as your Nurse friend suggested, its just not worth being sued over when you can get a complete first aid kit from places like home bargains for a couple of pounds.
If there is anything like a committee, who are 'in charge' in even the vaguest sense, then there is always a risk that someone might try to sue them for pretty much anything that happens.
So, from a 'covering your arse' point of view, it would be best if the committee authorise buying replacements. But you might want to think about how many of anything you actually need in the box, and just get a small cheap first aid kit rather than keeping some huge fully-stocked HSE approved thing.
Any business has to do a 'risk assessment' and decide what to do about first aid - eg at my work we have to have trained first aiders in each building, each with a portable kit, plus a first aid room with some extra kit. But that is to cover work legislation, not just a parent-led group. The committee (or whatever you have) could decide that a small kit from the supermarket is sufficient for the risks in your situation.
We are in France so sadly no Home Bargains, and pharmacy products are very expensive compared to to the UK, so it's quite an investment to replace them every few years. But I take your point - it's not worth being sued. TBH I don't think we are required to even have a first aid box - we could just tell parents to bring their own basic supplies. Doesn't seem very hospitable though, and we've had grazed knees etc where parents don't have any first aid stuff to hand.
I think I'll bring it home and use it up on my two boys! Or we could sell it half price to other parents, caveat emptor and all!
Could you fund raise to pay for a new first aid kit? Or get a local business to fund it?
My dad lives in France and is a member of a committee that funds local events, maybe somewhere like that would supply one.
I am in the UK, so not sure what litigation is like over there, but here it is becoming a bit of a "if there is a blame there is a claim" society.
I guess it depends what the laws are like, and what building you use to run your play group in, but it would be worth looking at the law surrounding it. Here (in the town where I live) most play groups are in school halls / church halls, and all have to have an up to date first aid kit.
My mum once had a reaction to out of date antiseptic cream. She said her skin felt like it was burning but she couldn't wash it off because it had sunk in. I wouldn't take the risk personally.
Don't expect a business to pay for a first aid kit for your play group. Make parents aware of the issue, and collect donations, or fund it from general collections.
I can't imagine plasters/bandages would be a problem
I have loads of ancient stuff in my cupboard but agree out of date liquid / cream might go off.
Some charities accept donations of out of date medical supplies to send abroad.
Things like bandages are really good for putting in children's doctors and nurses boxes so they can play at being doctors with dolls or teddies or they could play vets if you have stuffed animals. That's what happens with the out of date stuff where I work, and first aid kits here aren't required to have creams and such like in them anyway.
No idea about laws in France, but I'd have thought that in the UK a playgroup would be required to have an up to date first aid box. Is there an organisation like St. John's ambulance that might help fund first aid kits?
I'm in France too. I was recently at a really good clinic's A&E department and noticed that they had big signs on all the walls stating that disinfectants must be labelled with date of opening and must be discarded within xxx time from then. Time varied by disinfectant, but the longest was a month (betadine).
I asked the med if this meant that I had to junk the betadine at home after a month, and he said I really should. In fact he recommended that I buy the boxes of single doses, as out of date disinfectants can be a problem.
Usually in France they tend to overprescribe massively whenever you get a wound that needs treating, so we are never out of fresh ones though! For a 5 day bandage course they prescribe packs of 100 bandages...
I can't imagine anyone ever being sued for an out of date bandage or plaster...firstly how would they even know it was out of date given that the packaging would be thrown away as soon as it was open and used. Disinfectants/creams etc though should be kept in date, more likely because they lose their medicinal properties. When we have any out of date stock we send it off to a country who don't give two hoots about an expiry date and are grateful for something that's at least packaged and vaguely clean!
If the items in a first aid box are needed then they are needed. But it is certainly best practice to keep things within the expiration date.
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