Review of decontamination protocols for shared noncritical objects in 35 policies of UK NHS acute care organizations (2022)
Cleaning and decontamination of shared equipment is an important measure in the prevention of healthcare associated infections and in this article the authors reviewed policies and protocols in NHS hospitals and identified the following key points:
- There is a risk of infection when equipment shared between patients and between healthcare workers as pathogens can easily transmit to multiple individuals.
- Shared equipment such as BP cuffs, clipboards and thermometers can harbour pathogens they are often overlooked for cleaning.
- Providing an accessible list of equipment with easy to follow decontamination protocols can help to reduce the risk of suboptimal decontamination.
- Cleaning always needs to precede disinfection and sterilization.
- Decontamination policies and protocols should the decontamination method, decontamination frequency, and person responsible for decontamination.
- Decontamination policies should provide definitions for cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation.
The authors retrieved the following definitions from the policies reviewed:
Cleaning: a process that physically removes dirt, contamination and many micro-organisms using microfibre cloths, neutral detergent, water or equivalent.
Disinfection: a process to reduce the number of microorganisms to a less harmful level. This process does not necessarily destroy bacterial endospores.
Sterilization: total removal or destruction of all microorganisms, including bacterial spores.
Decontamination: a general process that removes, or renders harmless, harmful substances such as noxious chemicals, harmful bacteria or other organisms.
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