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Interest in identifying alternatives to medical devices and supplies containing PVC has grown for several reasons.  In addition to the hazardous compounds formed by its incineration, PVC manufacture requires ethylene dichloride, a likely human carcinogen, and vinyl chloride monomer, a known human carcinogen. Workers in PVC manufacturing and fence line communities next to these facilities are at risk for exposure to these chemicals.  Many uses of PVC require the addition of plasticizers to the polymer to impart flexibility.  Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), a member of another family of chemicals of concern, is the most common plasticizer used.

Studies also show that, in some circumstances, DEHP leaches out of PVC medical devices resulting in significant patient exposures. Bags, tubing, and catheters made of PVC plasticized with DEHP can result in some of the highest exposures, particularly when fat-containing liquids flow through them. Quantitative assessments show that developing males can be exposed to DEHP at levels that pose a significant risk to their reproductive tract development, particularly when undergoing multiple interventions with DEHP-containing devices.   

The Healthier Hospitals Initiatives’ Safer Chemical Challenge has set a goal of eliminating DEHP/PVC from at least one product line per year.  Learn from a panel of award-winning and HHI Sponsoring Health System Dignity Health Staff how they transitioned to DEHP-Free IV Bags and Tubing for the entire Dignity Health System (formerly Catholic Health Care West.)   (Thank you to Ted Schettler, MD for this introduction.)


  • Understand why there is concern over DEHP in medical equipment.
  • Learn how to submit data for the HHI Safer Chemical Challenge on DEHP reduction.
  • Understand how Dignity Health educated practitioners of the switch to DEHP-Free IV Bags and Tubing.


Dr. Ted Schettler, MD, Science & Environmental Network
Ted Schettler MD, MPH is Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network.(  He also serves as science director of the Collaborative on Health and Environment ( He has a medical degree from Case Western Reserve University and a masters in public health from Harvard University. Schettler has addressed the connections between human health and the food, chemical, built, and social environments in numerous publications and presentations. He has served on advisory committees of the US EPA and National Academy of Sciences.


Kathy Kudzia, Pharm.D., Senior Director, Supply Resource Management
Kathryn Kudzia is theSenior Director of Supply Resource Management for Dignity Health.As part of the corporate Supply Chain Management team, she provides leadership and strategic direction for contract implementation, product standardization and utilization throughout the system for supply products in cardiology, food & nutrition, imaging, laboratory, medical-surgical, non-clinical, pharmacy and surgery. 

Ms. Kudzia has 25 years of broad-based healthcare experience in key positions in hospital operations, clinical and support service departments.  She has a Pharm.D degree from the University of California San Francisco including residencies in Hospital Pharmacy Administration and Hospital and Clinical Pharmacy.

Susan Vickers, Vice President, Community Health
Sister Susan Vickers is the Vice President of Community Health for Dignity Health. She is responsible for directing and overseeing systemwide community benefit initiatives, corporate social responsibility and ecology programs. Susan took a leadership role in developing Dignity Health’s systemwide commitment to improved environmental performance.

Susan currently serves as board member of Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harm, and Healthier Hospitals Initiative. 


Mary Ellen Leciejewski, Ecology Program Coordinator, Dignity Health
Sister Mary Ellen Leciejewski is the Ecology Program Coordinator for Dignity Health. Her role responsibilities focus on advancing sustainability initiatives and networking opportunities throughout the system, working closely with green teams at each of the sites to implement system-wide sustainability programs, and integrating resource conservation concepts into the capital acquisition process.  She holds a Masters Degree in Ecology from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

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