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Emergency department ultrasound probe infection control: challenges and solutions

Authors Shokoohi H, Armstrong P, Tansek R

Received 28 June 2014

Accepted for publication 5 September 2014

Published 5 January 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 1—9

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OAEM.S50360

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Hans-Christoph Pape


Hamid Shokoohi, Paige Armstrong, Ryan Tansek

Department of Emergency Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington DC, USA


Abstract: Point-of-care ultrasound (US) has become a cornerstone in the diagnosis and treatment of patients in the emergency department (ED). Despite the beneficial impact on patient care, concern exists over repeat use of probes and the role as a vector for pathogen transmission. US probes are used for various applications, with the level of infection risk, based on the Spaulding Classification, ranging from noncritical with common practice to semicritical with endocavitary probes. To date, the most closely studied organisms are Staphylococcus aureus and human papilloma virus. Current evidence does confirm probe colonization but has not established a causative role in human infection. Based on current literature, US use during invasive procedures remains an infection control concern, but routine use on intact skin does not appear to cause significant risk to patients. Various barrier methods are available, each with indications based on extent of procedure and likelihood of contact with mucosal surfaces. Additionally, chemical cleansing methods have been shown to be effective in limiting probe contamination after use. New technologies utilizing ultraviolet light are available and effective but not widely used in the ED setting. As our understanding of the critical factors in US probe cleaning and disinfection improves, it is important to assess the challenges found in our current practice and to identify potential solutions to improve practices and procedures in infection control across the spectrum of US probe use in various applications in the ED. This article serves as a summary of the current literature available on infection control topics with the utilization of point-of-care US, and discusses challenges and potential solutions to improve the current practice of probe-related infection control.

Keywords: ultrasound probe, Staphylococcus aureus, disinfection, infection risk, endocavitary probe, human papilloma virus

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