February 14, 2022

Splash risks, droplet dispersal during instrument reprocessing

Editor's Note

This pilot project, by epidemiologist Cori L. Ofstead, MSPH, and colleagues finds that routine reprocessing activities generate substantial splashing and droplet dispersal, and that currently recommended items of personal protective equipment (PPE) do not adequately protect personnel from exposure.

The researchers found that:

  • Droplets were generated during every reprocessing activity except running the sonication sink.
  • Droplets traveled at least 3 ft when filling a sink, brushing a ureteroscope, and rinsing a basin with a power sprayer.
  • Droplets were dispersed up to 5 ft during some reprocessing activities, such as using a power sprayer.
  • Multiple PPE components were splashed during most reprocessing activities, and they did not prevent exposure even when properly donned and doffed.

Given the findings, more research is needed to support the development of evidence-based for guidelines and instruction for safe instrument reprocessing, the authors say.


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