Background: Despite standard manual decontamination, hospital equipment remains contaminated with microorganisms, contributing to nosocomial transmission and hospital acquired infections. This has the potential to negate the effects of healthcare workers' hand-washing protocols. In order to decrease the likihood of equipment contamination, there has been a rise in the use of disposable pieces of equipment, especially non-critical disposables. However, these carry a significant cost, both a direct financial cost (running into billions of dollars), as well as a cost to the environment. This is important because we hope to contain the cost of healthcare, one way to do that, is to look to the hospitals themselves, for innovative solutions that maintain the standard of care. Objective: To develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an simple decontamination device for use with portable hospital equipment, by comparing rates of residual contamination after use of the novel device versus those seen with standard manual decontamination methods. Methods: The Self-cleaning Unit for the Decontamination of Small instruments (SUDS) is a user-friendly, automated instrument developed via multi-disciplinary collaboration for decontamination in the clinical area. Pre- and post- utilization of portable medical equipment in an emergency department (ED) setting were cultured. To evaluate durability of the decrease in antimicrobial contamination, objects were re-cultured 48 hours after SUDS cleaning and following re-introduction into the clinical setting. Results: After manual decontamination, 25% (23/91) of the tested objects in the ED were found to be culture positive with clinically significant microorganisms(CSO). Fifteen percent (ED) of non-critical equipment tested had multiple organisms. Following the use of SUDS, the colonization rate decreased to 0%. Following SUDS treatment and re-introduction into the clinical settings, after 48 hours the contamination rates as reflected by the cultures remained 0%. Conclusion: Standard non-critical equipment is contaminated with clinically significant microorganisms. The SUDS device allows for effective and durable decontamination of hospital equipment of varying sizes in the clinical area without disrupting patient care.
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