G_IPC_38 Decontamination of Patient Equipment

Decontamination is the combination of processes used to make a re-usable item safe for further use with patients and handling by staff. As a combination of processes, it is important that they are undertaken correctly, both individually and collectively, to reduce the likelihood of infectious agents being passed to individuals or to the environment.

The CQC assurance marker, Outcome 8°c, specifically refers to decontamination as one of the standards against which organisations will be monitored. The requirements as set out in this standard, give a clear indication as to what is expected of the organisation and will be used to confirm that appropriate management arrangements are in place.

It is a mandatory requirement that all organisations who undertake local decontamination must "keep  patients,  staff  and  visitors  safe  by  having  systems  to  ensure  that  all  reusable medical devices are properly decontaminated prior to use and that the risks associated with decontamination facilities and processes are well managed."

These can be categorised as:

  • sterilisation of instruments
  • decontamination of medical devices and patient equipment 

The overall decontamination process can include purchasing and acquisition of instruments/equipment, cleaning, sterilising and disinfection, packaging, transport, storage and disposal. It requires effective management of systems often spanning a range of disciplines and locations within the organisation.

There are a number of health and safety issues associated with decontamination (including uncontrolled use of chemicals and inappropriate use of processes) that potentially can expose patients and staff to risk or injury.

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