It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it – clean semicritical medical equipment and electronics, that is. When the job falls to biomeds (and it does most times), how does one select the right mix of chemicals or prepared products that ensure “hospital clean” without damaging expensive equipment, sensitive connections and maybe even the environment? Choosing the right cleaner for the job can keep you out of hot water.

 Let’s face it: Few biomeds find cleaning solutions glamorous or appealing. But it does go along with the territory; in fact, cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting are absolutely critical in the healthcare environment. And the sad reality is that the unfortunate biomed who purchases the wrong type of cleaning chemical may find himself or herself in a bit of hot water. As Dell Romaine, president of Romaine Companies (Newburgh, Ind.), puts it: “Using the wrong product on stainless steel or metal can result in rust and corrosion. It may leave a film on the surface and cause damage to the equipment, or it may not kill bacteria on the equipment. Using the appropriate cleaning product is very important.”

Fortunately, finding the right cleaning product is not quite rocket science. All medical device manufacturers, by law, are to recommend a type of product to clean devices sold to hospitals. But biomeds need to ask, “What type of clean is required in this particular environment?”

 Coverage Spray HB and refill-size
bottle from Steris Corp.

“Clean” is defined by the Spaulding Classification (1968), which provides a logical approach to disinfection and sterilization of patient-care items and equipment. It divides medical equipment into three classes: critical (e.g. items that enter sterile tissue or the vascular system), semicritical (endoscopes or anesthesia equipment) or noncritical (bedpans, doorknobs, hard surfaces).

Once a medical device is classified, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offer guidance regarding the required type of cleaner and disinfectant. For example, if the medical device is classified as critical, the item needs to be sterilized. Low-level (hospital-grade) disinfectants without a TB claim suffice for noncritical items.

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