Joe Jung, a Pink Pad user and Director of Surgical Services in Anaheim, Ca. Photo courtesy of Bob Johnson of Xodus Medical.

This is part of a series giving you an insider’s view of the products coming out of Pittsburgh to change the world. 

For years, the health care industry has put medical outcomes as the top priority with patient comfort a close second.  

To accomplish this, health care professionals have used specialty products suited to specific tasks. For example, during the past decade, a large, soft pad has been used to cushion an operating table and improve patient comfort.

The traditional challenge is that these pads, much like other products used in medicine, are single-use items. After each surgery, the pad is thrown away, creating significant medical waste.  

The AMA Journal of Ethics states that “health care remains one of the largest waste-producing sectors” — hospitals in the U.S. alone generate 33.8 pounds of waste each day, leading to 6 million tons of waste annually. Twenty to 25% of the waste is due to plastics, which are used in syringes, intravenous bags, catheters, test kits and gloves, in addition to pads. And 91% of the plastics used are not recycled.

But Xodus Medical, a New Kensington-based company, is producing an alternative: The Biodegradable Pink Pad.

David Radin interviews Xodus Medical Vice President Bob Johnson. Video by David Radin.

Bob Johnson, vice president of global marketing and product development for Xodus, says the new version of the Pink Pad, which was released this spring, makes sure a patient is not only comfortable but also secure, allowing doctors access and preventing a patient from inadvertently sliding off of the operating table.

Johnson expects that converting hospitals from traditional pads to these biodegradable pads can annually decrease the landfill waste equivalent of blanketing 100 football fields.

A rendering of a patient using a Pink Pad
The Pink Pad supports surgical patients in the Trendelenburg position, where the feet are steeply inclined above the head. Rendering courtesy of Xodus Medical.

The Biodegradable Pink Pad is the result of a two-year effort with local chemists to upgrade the previous Pink Pad. Johnson says neither the patient nor the hospital staff will see a noticeable change in the product. They’ll use it the same way. It will feel the same and they’ll even dispose of it the same way. Nature will do the work of eliminating each pad from the landfill.

To help hospital decision makers say yes to the upgraded version, Xodus even got the product certified (ASTM D5511) this spring by an independent testing lab.

In recent years, the medical industry has recognized that single-use products help to prevent the spread of infections but sometimes at the cost of the environment. That is why healthcare policymakers and administrators are starting to pay more attention to a product’s environmental impact.  

The American Hospital Association even has created a sustainability roadmap for its 5,000 hospital and healthcare systems members. 

Know of a product or service being developed in Pittsburgh or by a Pittsburgh-based company that is cool, is creating growth, or will change the world? Let David know via email.

David Radin is CEO of Confirmed (ConfirmedApp.com). For decades, he has been leveraging technology and techniques to transform the way his audiences and clients succeed.