Germs from a patient may be found on any object that was used during the patient’s care. Some germs can live for 5 months on a dry surface.
The word disinfect means to clean something to destroy germs. Disinfectants are the cleaning solutions that are used to disinfect. Disinfecting supplies and equipment helps prevent the spread of germs.
Your workplace has policies about how to clean supplies and equipment.
Start with wearing the right equipment. This will include gloves, and you might need to wear a gown, shoe covers, and a mask.
Catheters or tubes that go into blood vessels are either:
Clean reusable supplies, such as tubes like endoscopes, with an approved cleaning solution and procedure before they are used again.
Equipment that touches only healthy skin, such as blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes:
Use cleaning solutions approved by your workplace. Choosing the correct one is based on:
Read and follow directions for each solution carefully. You may need to allow the disinfectant to dry on the equipment for a set period of time before rinsing it off.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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