CS Medical’s automated disinfectors, the TEEClean® Automated TEE Probe Cleaner Disinfector and the TD 100® Automated TEE Probe Disinfector, are both tried and true devices for the thorough high-level disinfection of transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) probes. But what should happen after you remove your TEE probe from your TEEClean or TD 100 and you dry it off?
Should you hang it up, put it in a case, lay it down, or something else? And once stored, how long can probes stay high-level disinfected? Let’s go over the basics and understand what the best practices are for TEE probe storage.
First, we need to determine the best way to store your TEE probes. Unfortunately, many facilities overlook this crucial part of TEE probe care and simply store their probes in transportation cases. This is not the intended use of these cases and is, in fact, against regulations in several countries, indicating that this is an unsafe practice. There are even facilities that stuff their expensive and fragile TEE probes into pillowcases, risking damage to the probe and ensuring that the probe will not remain high-level disinfected (the inside of a pillowcase or similar item is not high-level disinfected and potentially harbors dangerous bacteria).
According to The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, the best method for ultrasound probe storage will keep the probe protected from contamination and damage. While there is no hard and fast rule regarding probes storage in the U.S.A., the CDC and The Joint Commission both encourage healthcare facilities to store probes hanging vertically in a clean, dust-free environment.
To meet all these criteria effectively and for low cost, healthcare facilities should consider implementing a storage solution like the CleanShield® TEE Probe Storage Cabinet. These cabinets encase each probe, keeping them safe from physical damage. Additionally, CleanShield storage cabinets push HEPA filtered air into the chamber, minimizing the risk of airborne contaminants entering the cabinet and polluting clean probes. Storage cabinets help probes stay high-level disinfected until they are ready to be used again, safeguarding your facility’s high standards and keeping patients healthy.
Once a probe has been disinfected and properly stored in a storage cabinet, how long can it stay there before the disinfection level may become compromised? CS Medical commissioned a study to investigate and determine how long TEE ultrasound probes can be stored in the CleanShield before needing to be reprocessed.
Several probes were processed in TEEClean, dried, and stored. Half were stored in CleanShield cabinets and the other half were stored hanging in open cabinets without HEPA filtered air. The results were stunning. After seven days, those hanging within the CleanShield, “remained measurably free of contamination,” while those stored in the open cabinet had, “contracted 160 bacteria per 24 hour hang-period.”
As a result of this study, CS Medical recommends that, if all TEE probe reprocessing steps are correctly followed, a facility can store TEE probes within the CleanShield TEE Probe Storage Cabinet for up to seven days. Keeping your probes high-level disinfected and knowing how long they will stay that way is vital to the functioning of your facility. Be sure to consult your facility’s infection control practitioner and your TEE probe’s manufacturer to develop and implement a standard operating procedure at your facility regarding probe storage time.