The HSE says 20% of personal protective equipment (PPE) that has arrived in Ireland so far is not suitable for general healthcare use.
Millions of euro worth of PPE has already been flown here from China for use by medical staff during the coronavirus crisis.
However, the HSE says a fifth of it - mainly masks - doesn't meet their requirements.
They say some of the equipment could be used for other purposes, such as in isolation facilities.
CEO Paul Reid says they've tried to make sure this doesn't happen again.
He explained: "We have been in discussions with the supplier - we don't want any further delivery of this kit in the next orders.
"We want the required specifications that we have set out, and we have had discussions with them this week - we are expecting to see some samples with the revised specifications sent to us."
In total, officials said 65% of the PPE received is useful, another 15% - mostly gowns - is acceptable as an alternative to a preferred product, while 20% is not suitable for use by healthcare workers here.
The HSE chief also said an Irish supplier in Limerick will soon treble its capacity of making some PPE, having already doubled their capacity.