Which Infections Can Be Contracted Through Cross-Contamination?

When it comes to practicing medicine and operating a safe healthcare facility, medical practitioners need to be keen on keeping the environment as sterile as possible. For gynecologists, protecting patients and staff becomes a key objective. Microorganisms can compromise the safety of the practice by spreading through a number of different routes, including physical contact, airborne spread, respiratory droplet transmission, or physical objects as common vehicles. That being said, a medical practice needs to remain free of any areas where transmission by physical object, or cross-contamination, can arise.

Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria or other microorganisms from an individual, object, or surface to another unique individual, object, or surface. These bacteria, otherwise known as biological contaminants, can be dangerous to patients and physicians.

Which diseases can be brought on by cross-contamination in a gynecological office?

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is a common viral infection that can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Some strains of the infection can cause genital warts or even cancer, outcomes hard to spot when HPV often does not show symptoms until a year after initial transmission. Although the virus is primarily known to be a sexually transmitted disease, the potential for non-sexual transmission of HPV is just as likely.

A recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information examined the presence of HPV on frequently used equipment by gynecologists. The results explained, “When centres were compared, there was a higher risk of HPV contamination in gynaecological private practices compared with hospitals. Gynaecological equipment and surfaces are contaminated by HPV despite routine cleaning.”

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, severely weaken’s a person’s immune system by destroying the cells that fight disease and infection. It can be transmitted through a number of bodily fluids, including blood, semen, breast milk, or vaginal fluids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to occur.” HIV can lead to fatal conditions like acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Knowing this, medical practices should take every measure necessary to ensure their office avoids harmful cross-contamination. One way to solidify that objective is to invest in single-use, disposable speculums.

The risk of cross-contamination at a gynecologist office is significantly reduced by single-use, disposable speculums. Disposable speculums come pre-sterilized, so onsite team members do not have to worry about completing routine sterilization processes. Physicians will use the speculum once on a single patient. Once used, they can safely dispose of the recyclable device. Physicians can be sure this disposable medical device will be the least risk-averse option available.

Please visit Cyalume Medical for more information regarding the benefits of single-use, disposable speculums. The SpecuLume EZ, a single-use, illuminated vaginal speculum, provides true intravaginal lighting, reduces the environmental impact of batteries, and increases overall patient satisfaction.