All You Need to Know About Disinfecting Healthcare Equipment

Disinfection is essential in the healthcare industry. The goal of every healthcare professional is to save lives; this would be impossible if they can’t prevent simple cross-contamination. If they use a piece of medical equipment on an infected patient, and then, without proper disinfection, the same device is used on another patient, the risk of cross-contamination will be high. So medical professionals need all the necessary training and equipment for proper and effective disinfection of medical devices.

medical healthcare disinfecting

Basic Procedures

Disinfection is not a stand-alone process but rather a step in a process. This process is divided into three steps:

1.   Cleaning

This is the first step which requires the removal of dirt, dust, and grime from the surface of the equipment. It is mostly only effective on relatively large dirt particles. Cleaning can be done using detergent and water, whether manually (using a spray bottle or direct contact) or mechanically.

2.   Disinfection

This step involves removing disease-causing microorganisms from the equipment by destroying their defenses. It is only after this step that the device will be safe for handling. Disinfection works to destroy pathogens, but it may not be as effective or may not completely destroy them the way sterilization would.

3.   Sterilization

This is the final step in this process that renders a piece of medical equipment completely safe for use. After this step, all pathogens like viruses and bacteria should have been safely removed from the surface. Not all three steps are required for every instrument, but certain devices can not be safe for use otherwise.

Now that you know that sterilization and disinfection are not the same, what exactly differentiates them from each other?

While disinfection may successfully remove most germs, sterilization gets rid of all microorganisms on equipment. Disinfection can be used in many places, including businesses, schools, and homes. Sterilization, on the other hand, is most commonly used in hospitals and other medical facilities.

However, both of these play very important roles in the prevention of Healthcare-associated Infections, otherwise called HAIs. Improper sterilization and disinfection of surgical instruments like scalpels, forceps, and reusable devices like respiratory and endoscopy devices can cause infection in staff and patients. HAIs commonly occurring due to defective sterilization and disinfection of medical equipment include urinary infections, Hepatitis B, HIV, etc.

disinfect medical facility

What makes a disinfectant effective or considered to be of high quality?

For one, it has to be chemically stable. This is important because if it isn’t, it may adversely affect the people around them. It also needs to be compatible with the infected surface; you can’t use a disinfectant for soft surfaces like rugs for wood and metal. It should also be effective, this seems obvious, but not all disinfectants have an impressive rapid killing activity of a wide range of microbes. Lastly, it should be able to reach into every nook and cranny of the surface you’re cleaning to prevent leftover germs.

Dangers of Household Cleaning Supplies

Types Of Disinfectants

Based on these criteria, there are different types of disinfectants you can use:

1.   Chlorine and Chlorine Compounds

These are some of the most widely used disinfectants in healthcare. Chlorine can be used on anything from countertops and floors to linens and medical instruments. Despite their versatility, these compounds do have certain restrictions and limitations.

Bleach, the most commonly used chlorine variation for disinfecting medical equipment, can be toxic. It could also irritate the skin and cause discoloration of light-colored surfaces. Chlorine is corrosive and immense care is required in its application.

2.   Hydrogen Peroxide

This is another effective disinfectant used in the healthcare industry. It also has a wide range of activity; it can destroy several microorganisms, including viruses, fungi, and bacteria spores. A good thing about this option is that, under normal conditions, it is chemically stable. This means it fulfills one of the important requirements for a disinfectant. Apart from use on contact surfaces, it can also be used on fabrics, contact lenses, ventilators, and so on. For this, it has to be in a concentration between 3 to 6%.

3.   Alcohol

You saw this coming, didn’t you? Alcohol is a well-known disinfectant in many industries, even in households. Despite being widely available, however, it is not the best for disinfecting healthcare equipment because it is not effective on spores. So, it is best to use more effective solutions, especially on surgical equipment.

You can still use alcohol on the outer surfaces of equipment like ultrasound instruments, CPR mannequins, ventilators, ventilating bags, etc. You can also use it on stethoscopes, scissors, pagers, and thermometers. It may need to be at a concentration of 60-70%.

4.   Formaldehyde

Have you ever entered a laboratory where they were preserving organic substances and perceived a certain smell? That must have been formaldehyde. However, it also serves as a disinfectant. It is a highly effective disinfectant in that it can inactivate all microorganisms at a fast rate. Although, because of the aforementioned irritating odor, formaldehyde is not commonly used in hospitals. It can be irritating to the respiratory tract. When mixed with ethanol, it can be safely used to sterilize medical equipment.

natural disinfectant

5.   Electrolyzed Oxidizing Water (EOW)

We have saved the best for last because this is one of the few disinfectants that does not have any major disadvantages. EOW is a product of EcoloxTech; it is generated using just water, salt, and electricity. This means it is non-toxic, eco-friendly and does not contain any strange ingredients. It is non-irritant, which makes it the safest bet for disinfection. No fumes, no toxins. Despite all this, EOW is still highly effective. It can kill any number of microorganisms in no time. You can use it on any medical equipment and surface in a healthcare facility. With EcoloxTech’s systems, you have the capability to produce this powerful disinfectant on your own. You can learn more about this eco-friendly, non-toxic product here.

Other Uses of Hypochlorous Acid

We said earlier that hypochlorous acid is a general disinfectant. These are the other things that hypochlorous acid can be used to disinfect:

  • Food Produce
  • Meat
  • Furniture
  • Surgical/Medical Equipment
  • Livestock
  • Water
  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Household furniture and fittings
  • Toilets and bathrooms, among others.