Compare Welch Allyn Series: How to Pick the Best Case

This is the second part of a series of posts on comparing Welch Allyn products that will help incoming first year medical students learn about and select different medical instrument components to construct the right Welch Allyn diagnostic kit (otoscope and ophthalmoscope). The focus of this discussion is on Welch Allyn diagnostic kit cases, which is one of the easier choices to make as it doesn’t directly affect the use of your medical instruments.

The choices are straight forward: soft or hard casing. While many people instantly jump at the hard case, there are actually benefits and drawbacks to each.


Welch Allyn Hard CaseFirst, let’s look at the hard case, seen right, which are usually the default option offered upon purchasing a Welch Allyn diagnostic set.  Hard cases are designed to provide a shell of hard plastic around your instruments, with some padding between the case itself and the instruments inside. As such, dropping your Welch Allyn kit in a hard case is more likely to prevent the actual instruments themselves from directly feeling the shock of the floor. The other great benefit is that the inside of the case is basically a molding of the instrument components, meaning each part has its own place, and everything stays organized.

The biggest downside is that the hard case is somewhat bulky.  While it will fit into an empty white coat pocket, it will be somewhat of a tight fit to get the fabric around the corners.  It goes without saying that most med students don’t put too many other things in the white coat pocket that will carry their diagnostic kit, as it makes things difficult or impossible to fit everything. The downside of the organization benefit is that the molded inner casing essentially requires the user to organize everything before being able to close the case at all.  Some people find this annoying, especially if they are in a rush or have only one hand free.  It also means you can’t really re-use the case for new or other instruments. Lastly, the side-zipper requires the user to remove the entire kit from their pocket and set it down on a table to open. It’s rather difficult to access instruments directly from a pocket, or one-handed.


Welch Allyn Soft CaseNow let’s turn towards the soft case.  Depending on the retailer, you may need to specially request a soft case if you so desire it, but keep in mind that Welch Allyn instruments will most likely fit into any standard soft case, even if it is not made by Welch Allyn. The biggest benefit of soft casing is that it is a bit more convenient to use.  Instruments sit longitudinally inside the case, covered by a flexible padding layer, with an opening on top. The width of soft casing is thinner than the hard casing and without the hard corners, which means it easily slips into white coat pockets, even with other things in them. This flexibility and ability to squish into its surroundings also means it can even be slipped into pants pockets.  This is incredibly useful on a Pediatrics clerkship where white coats are optional.  The other big benefit is that the top opening allows for instruments to just be slipped in and out of the case while it’s still in your pocket.  No table for setup or organization time is needed.  Just grab and drop back in when done.  Lastly, it is important to mention that the open space inside the case means additional instruments can be placed within it.  When I bring a diagnostic kit with a soft case, my tuning fork and reflex hammer are stored within it in one convenient package as well. Thinking ahead, new or upgraded instruments do not require a new soft case, as they can be re-used.

The downsides are just the opposites.  Welch Allyn claims “both cases provide sufficient protection,” but the truth is that the soft case will transmit impact with the floor more than the hard casing. It also means instruments are laying loose inside the soft case and can bump and rub against each other.  This generally doesn’t actually represent any threat to the instruments as Welch Allyn claims all of their instruments are incredibly durable, but it should be pointed out.  As things are loose, grabbing otoscope tips that migrated to the bottom can be troublesome, but this is a moot point if you don’t need to bring your own tips because the clinic supplies them.


Still can’t decide? Let us help! Check all that apply:

I have a habit of dropping my cell phone frequently.
Ease of use is the most important aspect.
When I’m done using the vacuum, I never wind up the wire properly.
I want to keep my instruments as well protected and preserved as possible.
My school bag is a gigantic mess, but I know where everything is.
Presentation is everything.

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