Andolfo, et al. (2021) state that in the emergency department, where the use of ultrasound is common (including for sterile procedures), ward equipment is constantly exposed to high risks of microbiological contamination. There are no clear guidelines for disinfection control practices in emergency departments, and it is not known how emergency ward doctors follow good hygiene practices.
A multi-center audit was conducted in 16 emergency services from Northern France regional hospitals, in form of a questionnaire. It was proposed to all emergency ward physicians. The researchers excluded questionnaires when physicians mentioned that they did not use ultrasound on a daily basis. The questionnaire was designed using existing hygiene and ultrasound disinfection practices guidelines from varying French medical societies. It included three different clinical scenarios: (a) ultrasound on healthy skin, (b) on injured skin, and (c) ultrasound-guided punctures. All questions were closed-ended, with only one answer corresponding to the guidelines. They then calculated compliance rates for each question, each clinical situation, and an overall compliance rate for all the questions.
104 questionnaires were collected, and 19 were excluded. For the 85 analysed questionnaires, the compliance rates were 60.4% 95% CI [56.4–64.7] for ultrasound on healthy skin, 70.9% 95% CI [66.3–76.1] on injured skin and 69.4% 95% CI [65.1–73.6] for ultrasound-guided punctures. The overall compliance rate for the compliance questions was 66.1% 95% CI [62.8–69.1]. Analysis of the questionnaires revealed severe asepsis errors, misuse of gel, ignorance of infection control practices to be applied in the context of ultrasound-guided puncture and exposure of the probe to body fluids.
This study details areas for quality improvement in the disinfection of emergency ultrasound scanner use. Consequently, we propose a standardized protocol based upon the recommendations used for the questionnaire drafting, with a visual focus on the low compliance points that have been revealed in this audit. This protocol has been distributed to all the medical emergency services audited and included in the emergency resident’s ultrasound learning program.
Reference: Andolfo A, et al. Emergency ward ultrasound: clinical audit on disinfection practices during routine and sterile examinations. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 10, No. 25. 2021.