Medical Devices – Reusable vs Disposable Tourniquets

Table of Contents

“Tourniquette” or “Tourniquay”? Whether you’re British or American in your English-speaking, the tourniquet is an item that is highly utilised in the medical field. A device used to cut circulation; the tourniquet is a simple strap that wraps around a limb preventing blood flow in the extremities. You will find these used for blood collection, inserting cannula, in surgery or in emergencies to prevent blood loss. This is the first article in a series on medical devices and the ‘ins and outs’, the pros and cons and the features and benefits to assist in your clinical selections.

Re-usable tourniquets

Mostly made of a 100% polyester weave or an elastomer knit, a reusable tourniquet is the most common type. This consists of a relatively rough or broad weave designed for durability. At either end of the strap is a clip/tightener system to apply pressure around the limb. Typically, an item held in hospital inventories and washed after each use, a reusable tourniquet will be used on many patients every day.


  • Reduces clinical waste
  • Durable (excellent for emergency use)
  • Easy to use


  • Gets dirty quickly with a high risk of infection or cross-contamination
  • Bacteria and grime will build up and stay there despite washing
  • Rough/Irritating to skin

The concern

According to several reports, reusable tourniquets are responsible for frequent transmission of superbugs leading to health complications including infection. Out of these studies sixty-one of the one hundred reusable tourniquets showed that bacteria that were not normally found in those environments were detected on the tourniquets. This had a direct impact on patient outcomes with 6 percent of patients contracting an infection in hospital.

On the other hand, disposable tourniquets have no previous patient use and come straight from the packet. This method thus will reduce the chances of infection significantly. Perceived difficulties with disposable tourniquets are hard to tie on and uncomfortable for the patient. This is actually far from the truth, generally these are more comfortable and easier to apply. The stretchiness and length of the tourniquets also means that it can be used on more patients.

Disposable Tourniquets

Disposable tourniquets are increasing rapidly in popularity in hospital/healthcare settings. These are made of a similar material to nitrile gloves, a soft latex-free compound that is stretchy and manipulable. These are typically supplied in boxes or rolls. While reusable units have a clip and tightening system, these are fastened by a simple knot that keeps the pressure up but can be quickly undone when needed.


  • Soft material
  • Far cheaper
  • Easy on skin
  • No ongoing laundry or cleaning requirements


  • Increases clinical waste
  • Not as durable

Reach out to Westlab for your medical consumable needs today!


Recent Posts

About Westlab

We believe that delays in supply of medical products can cost lives, that’s why we stock bulk volumes of certified PPE to ensure you have the stock to protect your front-line workers

Follow Us

Discover the Westlab Experience

Enter your details below to request information on our product range, availability and pricing.