Margaret Jennings (B.App.Sc.), 33 Stanley Avenue, Eltham, Victoria 3095 Tel/Fax: (03) 9439 2436 Mobile: 0404 088 754 Email: INFECTION CONTROL NEWSLETTER 4 – May 2012
This set of questions from practice staff is more about cleaning and adds in drying & packaging 1. I wonder if you can tell me which is the best lubricant to use on old metal ear syringes – is baby oil OK because Vasoline seems to build up and I wonder if this is an issue for the spread of bacteria. Do they need to be sterilised between each patient or just washed in soapy water? Response – the key word “old”. Should we be getting rid of these? Check the manufacturer’s recommendation
for care and cleaning to see whether lubrication is recommended. I understand the “less old” ones do not
require lubrication – we should not be using any items that hard to use without lubrication. Both baby oil and
vaseline will contaminate - the item is disassembled and thoroughly scrubbed after every use in soapy water.
Sterilization is not required unless for aseptic procedures e.g. those involving contact with non intact tissue.
2. Is there an appropriate method for cleaning plastic ventolin spacers in clinics or are they only single use or single patient use items? Best practice requires a spacer in management of an asthma attack. Response - check the manufacturer’s guide to see these are for personal use so that means single patient
use. They go with the patient. I recommend you keep a few of these for patients to take as well as a couple
that can be sterilised e.g. breathatec brand. I hear there are even disposable ones for around $5. Items for use
on mucous membranes are for semi critical procedures under the Spaulding classification: the item must be
free of pathogens from the previous patient. The Ventolin types can’t be cleaned properly or sterilised.
3. I have been using disposable low lint towels, expensive and adding to huge land fill. I have found these new reusable towels very good, no lint, dry beautifully, and we wash them each night and hang them
to dry. I bought them at Bunnings, (MR CLEAN WORKPLUS, MICROWIZZ ALL PURPOSE CLOTH
Please let me know if you have any issues with this. Look forward to your reply.
Response – any towel, disposable or reusable, from medical supplies or non medical would have to state low
or non linting to satisfy this requirement. Does yours state this or is this your opinion? Kimberley Clark inform
me their Versatowel is not low or non linting – I have adjusted my advice as I had thought it was.
4. Just wondering how often the aquasorb towel should be autoclaved - after every use, weekly, daily?? Response – it should be clean and dry for each use. Wash at end of each day in dedicated bowl with hot
water and detergent (washing machine will add lint), wring out and hang on towel rail to dry overnight – this
reduces carryover contamination. Some sterilize them but it’s not necessary and takes up valuable energy
5. We were wondering about the correct way to pack a steriliser? Can packs touch each other at all? Response – Loading is about a few principles. I am assuming you use a single tray with a rack placed on it
that allows you to load around 6 - 8 pouches with varying numbers of instruments or gauze etc? Check that no
packs or bowls are touching the chamber walls because they can become damaged with the reflected heat –
you may be forced to gently fold over the top of the larger pouches but I don’t recommend this. The pouches
need to be spaced to allow drying – don’t panic if they touch a little but don’t pack them tightly. I have always
advised face the pouches in the same direction but I believe they may be placed face to face. I know that
where paper touches paper, this may explain some wet packs. If you are using two trays and one is for
unwrapped items and the other for pouches, always make sure there are no unwrapped items on the tray
above pouches or you are sure to get wet pouches. Ensure any bowls or dishes that require packaging are
placed so the open side of the bowl is against the paper side of the pouch for drying
6. Our PN is after some plastic ends to put on scissors and other sharp instruments to stop them piercing the bag when going through the sterilizer. Does anyone else use these and where do we get them from? Response – call your medical supplier or if no luck there call the CSSD department of your nearest hospital.

Margaret Jennings 0404 088 754.
Microbiologist and Infection Control Educator/ Consultant to Office Based Practice


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