Sterilization of Medical Supplies
Keeping personal medical supplies clean and sterile is essential to most patients’ health. While this may seem obvious, it is sometimes overlooked when using disposable medical supplies or when only one person uses the supplies. Being lax about cleanliness and/or sterilization can lead to illness, worsening of current illnesses, or cross contamination. It is especially inexcusable when there are so many cleaning products out there.
The best defense against germs and viruses is hand washing. Anti-bacterial soap isn’t always necessary either as long as the person uses clean water, soap, and washes for the correct amount of time. Usually the length of time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song is long enough (Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you...). Scrubbing with soap on the hands, palms, fingernails, and up to the wrist is generally sufficient. Although if the patient has a compromised immune system or is newborn, extra care should be taken. There are also many anti-bacterial soaps, wipes, cleaners, etc out there that can be used before hand washing too.
Hand washing is the best way to keep a person clean while using disposable medical supplies such as catheters, diabetic testing strips, and ostomy supplies. It is also necessary to wash your hands after installing these products,among others, as they involve bodily processes, fluids, and skin contact. If a person uses durable medical supplies that are permanent, like a walker, scooter, oxygen mask, etc, those should also be cleaned regularly. Spray cleaners or wipes are effective for clearing away the day’s accumulation of germs and dirt.
Gloves are always a good idea if you will come into contact with blood, bodily fluids, or are injecting medicines. They are cheap, disposable after each use- although they don’t replace hand washing after the fact, and they come in various sizes to fit anyone. Gloves can usually be purchased when purchasing your other supplies.
A cleaning routine may be appropriate depending on how much equipment a person uses daily. If a nurse or family member comes in to help, talk with her about what she is doing to keep your equipment clean. It may seem obvious, but in the business of life, sometimes the obvious gets overlooked.