What is a Medical Bag?

Anna B. Smith

A medical bag is a tote used to carry medical supplies, and may be carried by any member of the health care profession. Bags intended for professional use are large, durable, and typically padded to protect sensitive medical equipment during transportation. Types of bags that are intended for home use are much smaller, also known as first aid kits, and are constructed from any type of durable material. They contain equipment that may be used to provide non-emergency treatment for minor injuries.

A stethoscope may be included in a medical bag.
A stethoscope may be included in a medical bag.

The traditional medical bag is made from black leather and may be carried via a hand grip located on the top. It is of medium size and folds open along the top. Doctors may be visually identified by this piece of luggage, and performing arts, such as television and movie productions, often use such a bag as a prop to indicate a character's medical expertise.

Gauze is one item that is usually found in a medical bag.
Gauze is one item that is usually found in a medical bag.

A contemporary medical bag may be made from any material and is carried using hand grips, shoulder straps, and backpack-like harnesses. Nylon is a common material chosen for the construction of the exterior because it is durable, flexible, and easy to clean. The interior of the bag may be padded to protect valuable fragile equipment, such as a stethoscope and syringes, and include rigid dividers to separate each item. The sides typically fold out and are lined with mesh and clear plastic to allow for storage of small tools and supplies. Most modern bags also provide detachable handles that allow the item to be worn over the shoulder or carried in the hand, depending on the needs of the owner.

These bags are typically used by doctors, nurses, and emergency medical personnel. They are also favored by members of the medical profession who make frequent home visits to perform patient care. Larger bags may be used to store and carry blood pressure monitoring equipment, patient paperwork, and various types of medication.

A first aid kit may also be referred to as a medical bag intended for home use. This type of kit may be purchased pre-assembled or put together by a member of the household. The bag usually contains bandages, gauze, cotton swabs, sterilizing liquid, and over the counter pain relief medication. The contents may be used to treat minor wounds that are not emergencies, such as scrapes, cuts, and insect bites. These types of kits are often packaged in white tins or cloth bags that feature a red cross, which is recognized as a universal symbol for first aid.

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