Small devices mean a big problem in healthcare cleaning

FM newsroom – healthcare cleaning. A lot of small devices are used in healthcare environments and due to new technologies, the number is increasing. Most of these handheld devices are difficult to clean and disinfect and this can be a big problem for both patients and professionals.

What is the problem?

Small devices like remote controls, tablets, mobile phones or medical equipment like blood glucose meters, pulse oximeters, electrocardiogram leads and electrodes, stethoscopes and capnography sensors are a problem when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting, Ing. Paul Harleman, Global Application Manager at Vileda Professional shares with Interclean.

Challenges occur mainly because of the size, design, and sensitivity of materials or devices used on multiple patients frequently (e.g., stethoscopes). Intricate surfaces and crevices can be difficult to clean and disinfect effectively.

What to do?

It is essential to use appropriate chemicals (as instructed by the manufacturer) and equipment to ensure thorough cleaning and disinfection without damaging the device. Since these devices are often costly, regular training of healthcare staff on cleaning and disinfection procedures is also crucial.

Apart from the specific instructions of the manufacturer, there are some general guidelines Harleman suggests:

  • Avoid getting moisture into any openings or ports.
  • Ensure the sensor area is clean and free from debris.
  • Disposable high-quality microfiber wipes moistened with only water will clean appropriately.
  • Make sure that there is no residue of the detergent after cleaning.
  • Allow electrodes to air dry completely before re-use.
  • Use non-abrasive cleaning materials.
  • Pay attention to crevices and edges where debris may accumulate.
  • Avoid immersing in liquid unless specifically instructed by the manufacturer.
  • Use brushes and flushing tools if they are recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Ensure proper drying of instruments after cleaning to prevent microbial growth.
  • Pay extra attention to surfaces in contact with the patient’s skin.

Who is responsible?

In most healthcare facilities, besides environmental cleaning staff, nurses often have cleaning and disinfection tasks as well. Usually, it is clear who is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting the small devices. Still, sometimes the object may not be cleaned at all because the cleaning staff believes the nurses are cleaning it, and the nurses think the cleaning staff executes it.

Describing when and how devices should be cleaned and disinfected is the easiest part. Training and repetition of training are a bit more complicated, but the most challenging part is getting things done as they should be done. In all cases where people are involved, behaviour is the most dominating factor determining the result we want to achieve.


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