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Suction tip cleaning guidelines inadequate

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Manufacturers recommendations for cleaning suction tips may be inadequate, resulting in residual debris even after cleaning, according to a new study.

In response to an alert issued by the Food and Drug Administration to hospitals regarding reprocessing methods of medical devices, researchers with the University of Michigan tested manufacturers’ recommended cleaning methods for surgical instruments, including suction tips, which are exposed to large amounts of organic debris and are difficult to clean.

After following the manufacturers’ instructions on cleaning the suction tips, investigators often found debris where it should not have been; the manufacturer’s cleaning methods were not effective, the study authors said.

“As instruments become more complex, cleaning processes necessarily become more complex as well. Determining the best means of cleaning instruments is vital to ensuring patient safety,” the authors wrote. “This project revealed that often the instruments are not thoroughly cleaned even though personnel follow manufacturer instructions, but the solution to this problem, as well as its significance, requires additional investigation.”

The findings were published in the AORN Journal.

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