Anesthesia Machine Covers — Essential Infection Barricades in the Era of COVID
- The COVID 19 pandemic has seriously escalated the problem of hospital-acquired infection (HAI), a significant source of complications and death in hospitalized patients.
- Anesthesia machines are highly sophisticated pieces of technology, integral to the extraordinary degree of safety of modern anesthesia.
- At present, other than standard techniques of infection control like hand washing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfection of surfaces, there are no focused options available to prevent infection transmission from anaesthesia machines. The dimensions of the COVID epidemic have rendered urgency to this quest.
- Anesthesia machine covers afford a simple, effective strategy for reducing the potential of these machines as carriers of infection.
“Infection control is every health care provider’s responsibility, but it remains a low priority among many anesthesiologists,” — Murlikrishna Kannan, MD, FRCA, Department of Anesthesiology, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, Fla.
The Situation Today — Not so Good
A variety of equipment and tools are used during the administration of anesthesia. Once used, they are placed on the counter-top of the unit. Multiple tactile interactions with touch screens, monitors, keyboards and mice all extend the possible affected area. The stage is set for microbes to proliferate and disseminate.
Anesthesia machines are notoriously difficult to clean. They are potent reservoirs for intraoperative exposure to pathogens. Once lodged, the devices become significant sources of organisms.
“Cleaning anesthesia machines in-between cases is the only current strategy for infection control, but multiple studies have proven this to be ineffective, ... There’s no systematic approach in place to address the problem.” - Dr Kannan.
Enter, Anesthesia Machine Covers
To paraphrase Occam’s razor, the greatest of innovations and inventions are often the simplest.
Designed to help prevent hospital-acquired infections, the Anesthesia Hygiene Organizer (AHO), is a cover which provides barrier protection for the anesthesia machine and all other accessories.
The AHO is meant for single-patient use. The simple, translucent barrier ensures that body fluids and biohazard materials remain on the AHO and are effectively removed after patient care.
The device provides a clean area to lay out equipment for use on a patient, and it includes a nonpermeable barrier to place contaminated equipment.
Simple as that!
And There’s More
The second important function of the cover is the safe organization and containment of contaminated anesthesia equipment during patient care. The working counter of machines is not designed as an organizer. The area becomes cluttered and unergonomic in short order.
The cover has pouches or receptacles to house contaminated instruments. These pouches are leak-free and may be detachable from the body.
Show Me the Evidence
Because of the recent nature of this innovation, the selection of studies is small. What exists is clearly in support of AMC as a useful tool in reducing HAI from anesthesia machines.
- There is always a concern about patients suffering from the inexperience of trainees who are commonly a part of the caregiving team. Of interest, the cover provides excellent benefits to less experienced providers. When senior staff were compared with residents in training, the protective effect of the cover was remarkable.
- The use of covers reduces anesthesia machine turnover time in between surgical cases.
The COVID 19 pandemic has brought humankind to a historically unprecedented point of reckoning. We need to rethink every aspect of our daily lives. Healthcare delivery is on the edge of major changes. This is the time for fresh thinking and new ideas.
A simple intervention with tremendous impact: it’s time that AMCs are deemed a mandatory requirement for quality and safety in the practice of anesthesia.
Call to Action
Do this now!
Dr Murlikrishna Kannan
Dr Arjun Rajagopalan
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