We've all been there. Looking at a food item that has technically expired according to the label, but looks and smells fresh as a daisy. In these cases, it's easy and typically safe to ignore the label and just eat the food. But is it safe to use enzymatic cleaners or high-level disinfectant after they have expired?
Short answer: No.
Long Answer: Definitely not.
First it's important to understand what an expiration date signifies when concerning a disinfectant or cleaner. According to Michigan State University, when foods expire, it is because of the growth of microorganisms and bacteria which make the food unsafe to consume. When disinfectants expire, it is because the active ingredients begin to lose potency or degrade over time.
This means that when a disinfectant reaches its expiration date it can no longer reliably disinfect the item it is expected to clean. This can result in a TEE ultrasound probe which poses a risk to the patient and, by extension, to the facility. If an enzymatic cleaning solution expires and is used, then the probe may not be fully cleaned, meaning that biofilm has the opportunity to develop, prohibiting proper high-level disinfection. If an expired high-level disinfectant is used, it can result in dangerous bacteria remaining on the probe's insertion tube and posing a risk to the health of the next patient.
When it comes to cleaners and disinfectants, it is vital to pay attention to the expiration date printed on the bottle. Once that date has passed, the product can no longer be relied upon to carry out its duty. With reusable cleaning solutions and reusable disinfectants, however, it is also critical to record and retain the open date of each particular bottle. Once one of these products has been opened, it begins to degrade at a faster rate than when the bottle was sealed. As a result, the open date provides an additional expiration date that must be kept track of.
Keeping track of multiple expiration dates for various bottles of cleaners and disinfectants can be a tedious task, but it is absolutely necessary to protect patients' health. Fortunately, there are various devices that can help minimize or even completely automate the task of remembering expiration dates in a way that keeps your facility compliant with regulatory guidelines.
Devices like TEEClean® Automated TEE Probe Cleaner Disinfector not only employ single-use high-level disinfectant bottles of TD-5® and TD-8®, but also record and keep track of the lifespan of the enzymatic cleaner used to clean the probe. Additionally, this device records the expiration date printed on bottles of disinfectant and cleaner on an easy-to-read report that can be stored as an electronic record or printed for convenience. These innovations ensure that whenever a disinfectant is used to high-level disinfect a TEE probe, the process will be effective at killing all microbial life on the probe's insertion tube, making it safe for the next patient. This practice cuts down on record-keeping having to be done by staff and helps guarantee that expired cleaners and disinfectants are never used on TEE probes.
Keeping track of expiration dates is no joke when it comes to enzymatic cleaners and high-level disinfectants. Put patients' health and the integrity of your facility first by never using any cleaner or disinfectant once it is past its expiration date.