How Long Do Hospital Pharmacy Labels Last?

Like most products, hospital pharmacy labels have a lifespan. But the expected lifespan for one type of label may be different than the anticipated lifespan of another. In addition, the environment in which labels are used can have a significant impact on how long they last.

Pharmacy labels typically fail in one of three ways: their adhesive deteriorates, printing on the facestock runs or smears, or printing on the facestock fades. All things considered, pharmacy labels have a lifespan of about 3 years. However, there are mitigating factors that could cause the labels to expire prematurely. Below, we list four of the most common ones.

  1. Moisture

Synthetic laser printed labels withstand moderate levels of moisture rather well. However, the presence of high moisture is a proverbial death knell for paper labels that are inkjet printed.

If there’s no way to lower moisture in the environment where labels are applied, using synthetic laser printed labels that feature water resistant adhesive is a good choice when it comes to label lifespan.

  1. Sunlight

Receiving a moderate amount of sunlight is good for our health, but sunny days can make thermal pharmacy labels fade if the light hits them consistently. Because their printing is created via heat transfer, thermal labels are the most sensitive labels to sunlight. Over time, sun exposure makes the labels fade, yellow, or darken.

Over time, sun exposure causes practically all types of labels to fade, so there isn’t really a “sun safe” label. If you have to use labels in an area that receives lots of natural light, the best option is to avoid thermal labels. Synthetic laser printed labels are a better choice for withstanding sun exposure.

  1. Heat / Cold

The primary label problem associated with temperature extremes involves label adhesive. When standard adhesive heats up, its starts to lose its tack and makes the label easy to peel away. The same thing can happen when adhesive gets cold, such as from being in a refrigeration unit or cryogenic storage.

This is why it’s important to order labels whose adhesive is formulated to withstand unusual temperatures in the storage environment. With this type of adhesive in place, labels can deliver a much better lifespan than they would otherwise.

  1. Wear

Especially when they’re placed on lab specimens and prescription containers, hospital pharmacy labels receive frequent handling so staff can read the information. Labels can also accrue wear from being transported to different locations in the hospital. Because they are naturally fibrous, paper labels are the most prone to deteriorate from general wear.

Labels made from vinyl or polyester, on the other hand, tend to wear well. Labels that use either of these materials for the facestock are a good option for preserving label lifespan.

Who We Are

Shamrock Labels is a longtime provider of labels and associated products for hospitals, pharmacies, physician offices, and businesses. If your organization needs to maximize the lifespan of its labels, one of our stock or custom labeling solutions can meet your needs. To inquire, please call us today at (800) 323-0249, or fill out our contact form.

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