Now more than ever, cross-contamination is a legitimate concern for those individuals operating small or large medical facilities. Cross-contamination occurs when biodebris containing harmful properties is carried over to another host. Bacteria and contaminants can spread to staff members or patients through physical contact, airborne spread, respiratory droplet transmission, or physical objects. Sterilization can help combat the transmission of contaminants; however, patients would be troubled to learn cross-contamination after sterilization is still possible.
Sterilization practices are standardized across the healthcare industry. Processing must be carried out at a central location within a medical facility and staff must follow appropriate procedures to ensure medical devices are clear of contaminants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The aim of central processing is the orderly processing of medical and surgical instruments to protect patients from infections while minimizing risks to staff and preserving the value of the items being reprocessed. Healthcare facilities should promote the same level of efficiency and safety in the preparation of supplies in other areas… as is practiced in central processing.”
Additionally, medical tools must be cleaned using water with detergents or enzymatic cleaners before processing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Cleaning reduces the bioburden and removes foreign material (i.e., organic residue and inorganic salts) that interferes with the sterilization process by acting as a barrier to the sterilization agent.” Cleaning and decontamination treatments are intended to be applied right after medical tools or devices have been used on a single patient.
Although a medical staff member may be following this careful sterilization protocol, research suggests biodebris can still linger on “clean” tools. The degree of cleanliness by visual and microscopic examination was described by industry examiners. “One study found 91% of the instruments to be clean visually but, when examined microscopically, 84% of the instruments had residual debris,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers continue to study the eradication of biodebris after thorough sterilization. In the meantime, clinicians can trust this medical innovation will not encourage cross-contamination through biodebris: single-use medical devices.
Single-use medical devices can significantly decrease risks of cross-contamination among patients, clinicians, and office staff members. How does a single-use device minimize the risk of cross-contamination? A disposable medical device is intended to be used once on a single patient. It has not come into contact with any potential contaminants before being released from its individual package. Single-use devices will also refrain from spreading bacteria or contaminants to other individuals because the clinician will safely dispose of the device after one use. This avoids infectious disease outbreaks in a medical facility due to cross-contamination.
How can an office ensure the practice avoids the dangers of cross-contamination? That practice can invest in single-use, disposable speculums. Cyalume Medical’s SpecuLume EZ is a single-use, chemiluminated vaginal speculum that is a safer alternative to reusable speculums. For more information about the fight against cross-contamination or the benefits of the SpecuLume EZ, contact Cyalume Medical.