Beating COVID-19 – one cleaning and disinfectant wipe at a time

Medical practitioner with stethoscope checking patient heart rate

In the fight against COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in a clinical setting is a cornerstone of infection prevention.

With this in mind, Thinklabs’ One Digital Stethoscope, which is distributed in Australia by Visionflex, has now been added to GAMA Healthcare’s global list of products approved for cleaning with Clinell Universal Wipes.

Clinell Universal Wipes are registered as a Class IIB Low-Level Instrument Grade Disinfectant for use on non-invasive reusable medical devices such as a digital stethoscope. The wipes clean and disinfect in a single step: within 30 seconds of use, they can kill 99.99 percent of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

hospital wipes clinell wipes

The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) in Victoria specifically requested that Clinell Universal Wipes be tested for approved use on Thinklabs’ One Digital Stethoscope.

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 among hospital staff

During Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19 infections, which saw daily cases peak at 687 in August, hospital staff were also becoming infected with the virus.

Evidence suggests that the novel coronavirus is spread by a combination of direct contact and droplets. For medical staff, one of the highest risk times for infection is when they listen to a patient’s chest. Called auscultation, the process requires doctors to be close to the patient – within the 1.5m droplet-spread area; there is also a risk of dislodging PPE such as a face shield and facemask when fitting a stethoscope in the ears.

To help reduce the risk, The Royal Melbourne Hospital purchased a Visionflex Stethoscope and Speaker Kit which comprises:

It’s a simple solution for a difficult problem.

The kit enables medical staff to practice safe distancing when performing auscultation on patients. Only one medically trained person is required to use the digital stethoscope – at a safer distance from the patient – while other medical staff can listen via the speaker, two metres away. The digital stethoscope’s high-quality filters can be remotely adjusted to listen to different sounds such as the heart, lungs, and gut, and it can be transported on a trolley between patient rooms.

The stethoscope requires cleaning and disinfecting with a Class IIB disinfectant after use and, in a clinical setting, when combined with the correct use of personal protective equipment and hand hygiene, is an important step in stopping the spread of viruses and bacteria.

The five principles of cleaning

According to GAMA Healthcare’s Senior Infection Prevention Nurse Specialist, Carla De Marco, cleaning technique is a very important factor in avoiding the transfer of microorganisms from one surface to another. The five principles of cleaning are:

  1. Wipe in an ‘S’ shaped pattern – This encourages you to clean the whole surface and therefore decreases the chance of missing any spots.
  2. Work from top to bottom – Cleaning systematically ensures that no areas are missed and decreases the risk for recontamination.
  3. Wipe from clean to dirty – This reduces the risk of contaminating another area that you clean.
  4. Ensure correct contact time – Clinell Universal Wipes require a 60-second contact time to be 99.99 percent effective in killing all microorganisms; and only 30 seconds to kill COVID-19 at 99.99 percent.
  5. One wipe, one surface – This prevents surface-to-surface infection. Once you have cleaned with a wipe, it is considered contaminated and needs to be disposed of properly.

“With emerging respiratory infections like COVID-19, now more than ever it’s important to trust in the science behind a product,” said Carla De Marco. “You want something that works; you need to know that an area, or a surface, is clean. We can’t solely rely on hand hygiene or solely rely on people wearing PPE. Cleaning is very important.”

The latest research from the CSIRO found that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces such as stainless steel, glass, vinyl, paper, and polymer banknotes for more than 28 days at 20°C.

“In hospital,” said Carla, “COVID-19 is the big thing at the moment but every infection prevention nurse, day in and day out, is worrying about multi-drug-resistant organisms [super bugs]. They also survive on surfaces for a very long time … and that’s why cleaning the environment and shared equipment between patient use is vital to prevent the spread of infections.

“We always clean after we’ve used a piece of equipment on a patient, straight away.”

Learn more about Visionflex’s telehealth products for remote clinical examinations, video conferencing and data sharing.

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