An article published in Infection Control Today has highlighted the complexities of reprocessing ultrasound probes used in percutaneous procedures.
Percutaneous procedures, involving needle puncture of the skin, are a varied and complex group of procedures that create unique challenges for infection prevention. With over 140 distinct ultrasound-guided percutaneous procedures, the level of disinfection required for ultrasound probes used in the procedures varies and transcends all three categories of Spaulding.
Some percutaneous procedures may only involve contact between the probe and healthy, intact skin, requiring low-level disinfection. However, the wide variation in ultrasound-guided percutaneous procedures can lead to variation in the patient tissue sites contacted during use. In some cases, there may be a risk of contact with broken skin or sterile tissue that requires the probe to undergo high-level disinfection or sterilization. A number of variables, such as clinician background and expertise, technique used, and the patient condition can also affect the level of reprocessing required.
The authors of the article state that clinicians must be equipped with the right information to make decisions on reprocessing ultrasound probes in this complex area. To maintain patient safety, clinicians should be aware of the requirements of the Spaulding classification and be able to correctly classify probes used in percutaneous procedures as non-critical, semi-critical or critical.