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Coronavirus update: Disinfection of devices is critical

Washing your hands is important to combat Coronavirus, but so is cleaning devices used in healthcare environments.

While nurses, doctors, paramedics and first responders continue to operate and put their life at risk to help patients, healthcare front-line workers and first responders must protect themselves by implementing a higher level of cleaning and as part of that, disinfection of technology devices is critical to workplace infection control. But there is a right and wrong way to do it.

For medical staff, this can be scanning solutions, printers or mobile computers. It may seem counterproductive to wash your hands multiple times a day if you’re just going to touch a device immediately after, which puts both healthcare workers and patients at risk.

From constant handling by hospital staff, mobile devices become contaminated with bacteria. According to a whitepaper on devices used in healthcare, a typical mobile device has 18 times more bacteria than a public toilet door handle.

Given the rapidly evolving COVID-19 coronavirus situation, how should healthcare workers clean their devices properly to reduce the spread of germs and to mitigate the risk of damaging those devices which is critical in protecting themselves and their patients? Here are some best practices that do just that.

Disinfection versus cleaning

It’s not enough to just clean the glass components or the surfaces of buttons. Hospitals, ambulances, pharmacies and any other health institutions must thoroughly disinfect the plastic parts, such as the housing, as well as the nooks and crannies to prevent the transmission of contagions.

Wiping down a device is not always enough. Even when fingerprints are cleaned from a device, the surface may still be covered with bacteria, so unless the right cleaning agent has been used, it may not necessarily be completely disinfected to use in the current environment.

Implementing immediate processes

The most important thing to consider before implementing a cleaning protocol for devices is that most guidance information on how and what to clean with differs for each device. The first step is to refer to the device user guide to confirm which cleaning agents are safe to use. This includes the purity or formulation levels for each ingredient, including cleaning agents that should never be used.

It is recommended that hospitals and healthcare organisations should implement a device cleaning policy as soon as possible using the original suppliers’ guidelines. This will help ensure that employees are properly disinfecting mobile computers, scanners and printers regularly. In addition, it will reassure third parties that everything has been taken into consideration to help prevent shared technology devices from becoming a potential source of virus transmission.

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Wayne Miller

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