Implementing Ultrasound Probe Disinfection Guidelines
Boosts Patient Safety
Healthcare facilities that follow evidence-based guidelines for the disinfection of ultrasound probes enable physicians to perform ultrasound exams that boost patient safety. Reducing ultrasound probe cross-infection risk can aid in reducing Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs).1-2
Up to 70% of HAIs are preventable using existing infection prevention practices. 3-4
Infectious transmission occurs due to:5
- Inadequate cleaning,
- Improper selection and use of a disinfecting agent, and
- Failure to follow recommended cleaning and disinfection procedures.6
Focusing on point 2 highlights how important it is to apply the correct level of disinfection when decontaminating ultrasound probes.
For example, when a transvaginal ultrasound examination is performed, the probe comes in contact with the mucus membrane and the potential risk of cross-infection is considered medium to high.
Based on the Spaulding classification, the transvaginal probe is classified as semi-critical and is required to be High level disinfected. This ensures that all viable microorganisms are destroyed, except a small number bacterial spores. While Low level disinfectants only kills vegetative bacteria, while Mycobacteria, fungi and non-enveloped viruses remain.1-2
What is the impact on patient safety when the incorrect disinfection is applied?
A retrospective cohort study using linked national datasets from Scotland, 2010 to 2016, shows the infection risk following transvaginal ultrasound procedures. The study highlighted the impact to patient safety when Low-Level Disinfection was applied instead of High Level Disinfection. The study revealed an increase in infection risk in the 30 days following transvaginal ultrasound. The patients were 26% more likely to be prescribed antibiotics.7