Cleaning equipment between patient use matters


6th October 2023


Shared patient equipment can become contaminated and serve as a reservoir for harmful, infection causing pathogens, especially when not cleaned or disinfected between patient use.

Inclusive of common equipment such as blood pressure cuffs, wheelchairs, commodes, tympanic thermometers and SpO2 monitors, evidence has shown the link between contaminated shared equipment, transmission of pathogens, HAIs and hospital outbreaks. Studies have also shown that some of the most used equipment, like tympanic thermometers are often contaminated with potentially harmful pathogens, with one study showing that 41% of tympanic thermometer handles across 3 healthcare sites were contaminated.

Assessing how often and effectively the thermometer handles were decontaminated at one site, researchers placed DNA UV fluorescent markers on the handles and alarmingly, after 14 days the UV marker still remained, which indicated that the thermometers had not been cleaned or decontaminated at all across the two-week period.

Effective routine decontamination of shared equipment and frequently touched surfaces is an essential activity that protects patients, residents, staff and visitors from healthcare-associated infections, and the highlighted study shows the importance of raising awareness among staff of the crucial place cleaning between each patient use holds in preventing HAIs.

For further information, we invite you to explore our campaign, IPC ‘Moments that Matter’, where you can find valuable resources. Find out more here >


John, A. et al. (2018). Evaluation of the potential for electronic thermometers to contribute to spread of healthcare-associated pathogens. AJIC 46(6) 708-10

Alfa, M. J., Dueck, C., Olson, N., DeGagne, P., Papetti, S., Wald, A., Lo, E., & Harding, G. (2008). UV-visible marker confirms that environmental persistence of Clostridium difficile spores in toilets of patients with C. difficile-associated diarrhea is associated with lack of compliance with cleaning protocol. BMC Infectious Diseases, 8(1).



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