You have probably heard the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and when it comes to cleaning medical equipment, no truer words can be spoken.
A critical part of patient care is eliminating the risk of infection. Bacteria and viruses can cause major complications, and it is vital to understand that preventing disease is much easier than treating one. Cleaning medical equipment is a crucial step to ensure health, healing, and patient safety, whether the equipment is used at home or in a hospital or clinic setting.
Properly cleaning medical equipment requires following specific procedures, which can vary depending on the type of equipment. For this reason, it is essential to read and follow any manufacturer's instructions. Ignoring these guidelines can damage the equipment or, even worse, spread bacteria and viruses.
They may seem long and involved, but the papers that came with your medical equipment are there for a reason. Within those pages is essential information on how to clean and disinfect the equipment properly. It will also include a list of accessories that are compatible with the specific device and any warranties or maintenance routines that must be followed. So instead of throwing away that important information, create a file for it and keep it in a safe place for easy reference.
During the pandemic, we all got a lesson on Personal Protective Equipment. PPE is an important part of patient care to protect healthcare providers from exposure to potentially harmful substances while cleaning medical equipment. Gloves prevent direct contact with contaminants, and masks or gowns may be necessary depending on the nature of the equipment and the cleaning agents used.
It is also important to disinfect medical equipment in a clean, well-lit, and properly ventilated area to minimize exposure to cleaning product fumes. This space should also be organized and free from clutter, and any items that aren't needed while cleaning should be stored elsewhere. Moreover, it should not be in a high-traffic area.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for disassembling the medical equipment. This will ensure a deep clean and allow access to areas that might be difficult to reach when the unit is assembled. Before you take it apart, photograph the equipment or label each part so reassembling it is easy.
Make sure to check those instructions for any specific cleaning agents. Certain chemicals can damage certain equipment, so to clean the device and have it function properly, use what the manufacturer recommends. Also, be certain that any solutions that you use need to be diluted with water. Using concentrated chemicals at full strength when it is not recommended could ruin your equipment and put patients at a health risk.
When cleaning your medical devices, use disposable wipes, lint-free cloths, or a soft brush. Abrasive materials or anything that sheds even the tiniest of fibers can introduce harmful contaminants and compromise the equipment.
The instructions or manufacturer's guidelines will contain valuable information about any cords or connections. If possible, always unplug the equipment before cleaning. This will ensure your safety and prevent damage to the medical device.
Take your time putting the machine away. If you store medical equipment with any moisture contained within its parts, it could create a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Those hard-to-reach areas that we talked about before are common areas for these bad boys to grow, so make sure to air dry thoroughly before reassembling, storing, or using the equipment again. Use lint-free cloths to pat surfaces dry if you need to speed up drying time.
Clean, calibrate, and perform quality testing to ensure your equipment always performs at top quality. Maintenance should be scheduled and performed regularly to help identify performance problems, ensure safety and health compliance, and extend the equipment's lifespan.
Create a log and document each cleaning with the date, time, equipment identification numbers, and the person who cleaned the unit. This log will establish proper documentation for compliance quality and demonstrate a commitment to infection control standards.
Anything used to clean medical equipment properly can be considered biohazardous waste and must be eliminated properly. Used cleaning solutions and materials should be disposed of according to established protocols.
Following these steps correctly and incorporating them into a comprehensive infection control plan will create a safer and more hygienic environment for patients and staff. Regular training and updates on cleaning protocols are also essential to ensure that healthcare professionals stay informed about the latest guidelines and best practices.
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Linda Guerrera has been the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You since 2022. A recipient of the New York State Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Work in Radio, she spent over ...
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