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TEE Probe Disinfection - 3 Reasons You Should Automate

From self-driving cars to self-guided vacuum cleaners for your home, automation seems to be the way of the future. When it comes to healthcare, however, automating different processes can be somewhat costly. Because automation can seem so expensive, some facilities are asking the question: is it worth automating? There are at least three solid reasons for making the change and propelling your healthcare facility into the future.

1. Patient Safety

The number one reason to automate your TEE probe reprocessing procedure is the health and safety of your patients.

Manually reprocessing probes can be a tedious and repetitive task. When employees must consistently perform repetitive tasks over and over again, they become more likely to make mistakes. These mistakes, while totally accidental, can result in the spread of healthcare associated infections (HAIs) which may lead to severe illnesses and even death of a patient. Internationally, it is recognized that using automated processes provides significant risk reduction of the transmission of HAIs.

In fact, according to a study done by the University Hospital Muenster in Germany, “Automated disinfection had a statistically significantly higher success rate of 91.4% (106/116) compared with 78.8% (89/113) for manual disinfection (P = 0.009). The risk of contamination was increased by 2.9-fold when disinfection was performed manually.” This means that when patient safety is the priority, automation is the method of choice when reprocessing TEE probes.

2. Employee Safety and Satisfaction

Not only can automating your TEE probe reprocessing procedure keep patients safer, it can keep your employees safer and happier. A study by Ofstead & Associates, Inc. found that the majority of employees who had to manually reprocess reported health problems, but that physical discomfort diminished after the installation of an automatic reprocessor. Occupational exposure when reprocessing TEE probes is real and can have serious consequences for some employees.

Additionally, automation can free up time for employees, allowing them to focus on patients more and reprocessing less. This can increase productivity and help employees feel that their skills are being utilized more fully instead of leaving them to stare into basins of disinfectants for hours each day while manually reprocessing probes. Automating the process can help employees feel that their time is valued.

3. Your Facility’s Bottom Line

Ultimately, finances are a very important factor to consider when automating your facility’s reprocessing procedures. According to The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS), “Automated processes are preferable due to the reduced risk of operator error.” Errors when reprocessing, as mentioned above, can lead to dangerous infections and illnesses for both patients ad employees.

As a healthcare facility, health must be your top priority. If, however, patients and employees fall ill as a result of the risks associated with manual reprocessing, your facility will likely face lawsuits. HAIs alone incur costs of up to $11.5 billion annually. Furthermore, if patients and employees become ill from your facility, it will damage the reputation of your facility, leading to fewer patients and frequent staff turnover. These costs quickly add up and may significantly impact a facility’s financial standing.

The NHS in the UK affirms that, “health facilities should investigate and work towards the use of automated and validated decontamination systems.” Get your healthcare facility out of the dark ages and consider automating your TEE probe reprocessing procedure. With TEEClean Automated TEE Probe Cleaner Disinfector, manual cleaning and high-level disinfection (and all the risks associated with them) can be a thing of the past.

From CS Medical LLC (2020)

Are You Storing Your TEE Probes Correctly?

Too many facilities have no standardized way of storing transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) ultrasound probes. This means that in some facilities, anything goes. Some facilities have used transportation cases to store their TEE probes, but that is not their intended use and is actually prohibited in several countries. We have actually heard stories of facilities who store their expensive and fragile probes in pillow cases! Correct storage of TEE probes is vital to keeping probes in commission for as long as possible and for ensuring the safety of those probes for patients. When a facility has no standard operating procedure in place for the storage of TEE probes, probes are at a higher risk of getting damaged or becoming contaminated.

When choosing a storage option for your TEE probes, take into consideration these recommendations given by The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, SDMS: “Proper storage reduces the risk of re-contamination of the transducer from environmental contaminants or accidental contamination during storage. Follow the manufacturer’s IFU or other guidance for proper storage.” The best method of TEE probe storage will keep probes away from any possible sources of contamination and will prevent damage to the probes.

What are some possible storage solutions?

The two most commonly used options for TEE probe storage are clear PVC tubes mounted on a wall and storage cabinets.

The PVC tube option is often chosen for its low cost. However there are some risks associated with this method of storage. The PVC tubes used for this method are rather narrow and can be very difficult to keep clean on the inside. As these are simply tubes of PVC mounted onto a wall, they are open from the top and bottom, exposing the TEE probes to the possibility of airborne contaminants which can lead to patients coming down with healthcare acquired infections (HAIs).

Additionally, because of their light weight, some facilities may choose to install these TEE probe holders in a working area or even a corridor, making probes even more likely to be damaged or soiled. These PVC tubes also have no level of security, putting the probes at risk of being stolen or tampered with. This could result in very costly and unfortunate situations for the healthcare facility, employees, and patients.

Storage cabinets, like the CleanShield are by far the best option which mitigates the most risk for probes and patients alike. These cabinets are large and easy to clean, inside and out, making it more likely that bacteria will not be harbored inside.

The CleanShield, in particular, keeps the air within the cabinet clean by use of a two-stage, electro-statically charged filtration system. This keeps the TEE probes within safe from any airborne contaminants, preventing HAIs. The front doors of CleanShield cabinets also lock, making sure TEE Probes are protected from theft and contamination. Within the CleanShield, probes are stored hanging vertically, as suggested by the CDC.

The CleanShield also meets the requirements set out by The Joint Commission in their High-Level Disinfection (HLD) and Sterilization BoosterPak which states that probes should be hung, “vertically in a clean, well-ventillated and dust-free area.” While there is no legal national standard in the United States, the Australian Journal of Ultrasound Medicine (AJUM) recommends that a cabinet be used for storage to protect against environmental contamination. Consult your facility’s infection control practitioner and the TEE probe manufacturer to develop a standard operating procedure at your facility and implement one of the safest methods for TEE probe storage: a probe storage cabinet. And stop using pillowcases.

From CS Medical LLC (2020)

Are You Storing Your TEE Probes Correctly?

Too many facilities have no standardized way of storing transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) ultrasound probes. This means that in some facilities, anything goes. Some facilities have used transportation cases to store their TEE probes, but that is not their intended use and is actually prohibited in several countries. We have actually heard stories of facilities who store their expensive and fragile probes in pillow cases! Correct storage of TEE probes is vital to keeping probes in commission for as long as possible and for ensuring the safety of those probes for patients. When a facility has no standard operating procedure in place for the storage of TEE probes, probes are at a higher risk of getting damaged or becoming contaminated.

When choosing a storage option for your TEE probes, take into consideration these recommendations given by The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, SDMS: “Proper storage reduces the risk of re-contamination of the transducer from environmental contaminants or accidental contamination during storage. Follow the manufacturer’s IFU or other guidance for proper storage.” The best method of TEE probe storage will keep probes away from any possible sources of contamination and will prevent damage to the probes.

What are some possible storage solutions?

The two most commonly used options for TEE probe storage are clear PVC tubes mounted on a wall and storage cabinets.

The PVC tube option is often chosen for its low cost. However there are some risks associated with this method of storage. The PVC tubes used for this method are rather narrow and can be very difficult to keep clean on the inside. As these are simply tubes of PVC mounted onto a wall, they are open from the top and bottom, exposing the TEE probes to the possibility of airborne contaminants which can lead to patients coming down with healthcare acquired infections (HAIs).

Additionally, because of their light weight, some facilities may choose to install these TEE probe holders in a working area or even a corridor, making probes even more likely to be damaged or soiled. These PVC tubes also have no level of security, putting the probes at risk of being stolen or tampered with. This could result in very costly and unfortunate situations for the healthcare facility, employees, and patients.

Storage cabinets, like the CleanShield are by far the best option which mitigates the most risk for probes and patients alike. These cabinets are large and easy to clean, inside and out, making it more likely that bacteria will not be harbored inside.

The CleanShield, in particular, keeps the air within the cabinet clean by use of a two-stage, electro-statically charged filtration system. This keeps the TEE probes within safe from any airborne contaminants, preventing HAIs. The front doors of CleanShield cabinets also lock, making sure TEE Probes are protected from theft and contamination. Within the CleanShield, probes are stored hanging vertically, as suggested by the CDC.

The CleanShield also meets the requirements set out by The Joint Commission in their High-Level Disinfection (HLD) and Sterilization BoosterPak which states that probes should be hung, “vertically in a clean, well-ventillated and dust-free area.” While there is no legal national standard in the United States, the Australian Journal of Ultrasound Medicine (AJUM) recommends that a cabinet be used for storage to protect against environmental contamination. Consult your facility’s infection control practitioner and the TEE probe manufacturer to develop a standard operating procedure at your facility and implement one of the safest methods for TEE probe storage: a probe storage cabinet. And stop using pillowcases.

From CS Medical LLC (2020)

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