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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Define THIS!

For some, choosing a disinfectant can be a daunting task, especially for those in non-healthcare related fields where guidelines are scant and opportunities to attend educational conferences that devote a portion of the day to the use of disinfectants are virtually non-existent. Herein lays the importance of Infection Prevention and Control Professionals, Public Health Inspectors, Chemical Disinfectant Sales Reps and Chemical Disinfectant Manufactures to ensure not only a consistent message with respect to the terminology used for classifying chemical disinfectants but to ensure they are using the RIGHT terminology.

Much to my dismay, the following image is almost iconic in the Canadian Infection Prevention arena. You may be thinking “but a picture tells a thousand words” and while in many cases that may be true, when the picture is flawed, mistakes can occur and in some cases these mistakes can be darn right dangerous!

Before I point out the flaw, let me tell you a true story. Several years ago, I received a call from a Daycare Facility in the midst of a Norovirus outbreak. The Daycare facility had been visited by their local Public Health Inspector and instructed to purchase a High Level Disinfectant to use for cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces and all toys in the facility. Being a contentious Daycare Facility, they followed the instructions of the Public Health Inspector and went out and bought a High Level Disinfectant.

Thankfully, being a contentious Daycare Facility, they READ the label before they use the disinfectant product and when they READ the label of the High Level Disinfectant they bought they could not make heads or tails of how to use for cleaning and disinfection of the surfaces and toys in their facility. Wanting to ensure they used the product correctly, they called me and to make a long story short….I told them they had the wrong product.

I hope by now, you have figured what the flaw is. High Level Disinfectants are NOT intended for use on environmental surfaces, non-critical devices or toys!!!

By definition, a High Level Disinfectant is used for disinfection of Semi-Critical Devices (items that come in contact with mucous membranes or non-intact skin). High Level Disinfectants are designed for soaking semi-critical devices (hence the reason the Daycare Facility could not determine how to use the product for wiping surfaces). Contrary to the much loved image above, there is NO such thing as a High Level Disinfectant for environmental surfaces, non-critical devices or toys. The Public Health Inspector should have instructed the Daycare Facility to purchase a disinfectant that carries a label claim against Norovirus.

The moral of this story, as with any story involving disinfectants is READ the label before you use a product and if you do not understand the label – ask for help. I suppose a second moral would be NEVER, EVER let me hear the words High Level Disinfection in conjunction with environmental surfaces, non-critical devices….or toys!

Bugging Off!

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