Patient Safety Awareness Week Ultrasound Disinfection

Patient Safety Awareness Week Ultrasound Probe Disinfection

Implementing Ultrasound Probe Disinfection Guidelines
Boosts Patient Safety

Healthcare facilities that follow evidence-based guidelines for the disinfection of ultrasound probes enable physicians to perform ultrasound exams that boost patient safety. Reducing ultrasound probe cross-infection risk can aid in reducing Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs).1-2

Up to 70% of HAIs are preventable using existing infection prevention practices. 3-4

Infectious transmission occurs due to:5

  1. Inadequate cleaning,
  2. Improper selection and use of a disinfecting agent, and
  3. Failure to follow recommended cleaning and disinfection procedures.6

Focusing on point 2 highlights how important it is to apply the correct level of disinfection when decontaminating ultrasound probes.

For example, when a transvaginal ultrasound examination is performed, the probe comes in contact with the mucus membrane and the potential risk of cross-infection is considered medium to high.

Based on the Spaulding classification, the transvaginal probe is classified as semi-critical and is required to be High level disinfected. This ensures that all viable microorganisms are destroyed,  except a small number bacterial spores. While Low level disinfectants only kills vegetative bacteria, while Mycobacteria, fungi and non-enveloped viruses remain.1-2

Endocavitary Transducet Why High Level Disinfection is Necessary

What is the impact on patient safety when the incorrect disinfection is applied?

A retrospective cohort study using linked national datasets from Scotland, 2010 to 2016, shows the infection risk following transvaginal ultrasound procedures. The study highlighted the impact to patient safety when Low-Level Disinfection was applied instead of High Level Disinfection. The study revealed an increase in infection risk in the 30 days following transvaginal ultrasound. The patients were 26% more likely to be prescribed antibiotics.7

Following Evidence Base Ultrasound Probe Disinfection Guidelines
ensures quality health outcomes when using ultrasound.

Reference: 1. ACIPC-ASUM. Guidelines for Reprocessing Ultrasound Transducers. Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine. 2017;20(1):30-40. 2. Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008 Electronically accessed:, June 2014. 3. Scott, RD. The Direct Medical Costs of Healthcare-Acquired Infections in US Hospitals and the Benefits of Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1–13, 2009. 4.Bearman, G., Doll, M., Cooper, K. et al. Hospital Infection Prevention: How Much Can We Prevent and How Hard Should We Try?. Curr Infect Dis Rep 21, 2 (2019). 5.The Joint Commission, Improperly sterilized or HLD equipment – a growing problem; Quick Safety Issue 33, May 2017. 6. CDC Health Alert Network September 11, 2015. Available from: 7. Scott. D et al., Risk of infection following semi-invasive ultrasound procedures in Scotland, 2010 to 2016: A retrospective cohort study using linked national datasets, Ultrasound. 2018 Aug;26(3):168-177. doi: 10.1177/1742271X18774594.
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