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Calls to improve decontamination of ultrasound probes

The Institute of Decontamination Sciences (IDSc) annual conference attracted a host of top speakers at the Eastside Rooms in Birmingham to discuss how we can reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infections.

The Clinical Services Journal interviewed a range of industry experts during the exhibition, which took place alongside the conference, to gain an insight into key issues in decontamination. 

Judith Pilling, a qualified sonographer, was among the experts asked for their views on how we can improve patient safety. Judith qualified in ultrasound at Leeds St James’s University Hospital in the early 90’s and obtained her Masters in 1998. She highlighted the risks associated with inadequate decontamination of ultrasound probes. 

In the past, there has been wide variation in the methods used to clean ultrasound probes. In some instances, they may be given a ‘quick wipe’ between patients and a variety of different materials may be used. Unfortunately, a combination of non-standardised methods and human factors has led to outbreaks of infections and even patient deaths. 

Keys et al (2015) tested ultrasound equipment used in five EDs and five ICUs for blood and microbial contamination. They found that 61% of samples tested positive for blood contamination and 48% tested positive for microbiological contamination. Transducer leads and transducers had high blood contamination (88% and 57%, respectively) and microbiological contamination (62% and 46%, respectively). Other studies have also highlighted the increased risks associated with undergoing Endocavity ultrasound.

In the UK, the MHRA issued a Medical Device Alert warning of the risks associated with reusable transoesophageal echocardiography, transvaginal and transrectal ultrasound probes, following the death of patient from hepatitis B – which was thought to have been transmitted by an improperly disinfected Endocavity ultrasound probe.

“Endocavity probes for transvaginal and anal scanning, and even line insertion, should go through high level disinfection,” Judith commented. This minimises the risk of cross contamination between patients and reduces the risk of infection, she advised.  

Automated systems are now available which eliminate some of the human error and variation associated with manual wiping systems. The waste associated with wipes disposal is also reduced, Judith points out. However, she adds that some automated systems are more environmentally friendly/sustainable than others. Workflow of the department also needs careful consideration when implementing a decontamination system for both manual and automated systems. 

In this video, Judith offers some valuable advice for healthcare organisations. Click here to view

 

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Upcoming Events

The Third Annual Healthcare Innovation and Technology Conference and Exhibition 2024

Royal Society of Medicine, London
27th February 2024

Infection Prevention & Control

National Conference Centre, Birmingham
23rd - 24th April 2024

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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