Safe Point-of-Care (Waived) Testing Practices

Safe Point-of-Care (Waived) Testing Practices

Point of care (POC) or waived testing is an everyday occurrence in all healthcare settings but it doesn’t come without risk to patients.   Did you know that from 2008 -2015 more than 100,000 patients were notified of a potential exposure to viral hepatitis after receiving healthcare?

Viral hepatitis outbreaks have occurred in almost every healthcare setting, with the majority occurring outside of the hospital setting.  Careful investigation pointed to breaches in cleaning and disinfecting the meter or using lancets for more than one patient as the major contributing factors in the POC testing outbreaks.

Infection control best practices for POC testing include: hand hygiene before putting gloves on, hand hygiene every time gloves are removed, and disinfecting the meter after every patient.

Sometimes healthcare workers may question why it is necessary to clean the meter after use when it doesn’t touch the patient.  Consider these facts from the CDC: Hepatitis B can survive outside of the body for up to 7 days and can still transmit infection during that time.  Similarly, Hepatitis C can survive outside of the body at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.  Hepatitis is transmitted indirectly either by healthcare worker’s hands or by contaminated equipment (meters, test strips, test strip bottles, etc.) even without visible blood or body fluids present on these items and healthcare workers hands or gloves.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to disinfect the meter. For glucometers, the manufacturer’s instructions should clearly state if the meter is intended for single patient use or multiple patient use.  If you can’t find this information in the manufacturer’s instructions, you can check the 510K Summary submitted for FDA approval by the manufacturer at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/devicesatfda/. The CDC recommends only using a meter for one patient if the manufacturer’s instructions don’t clearly state adequate disinfection instructions.

Although the reported incidents involved blood glucose monitoring, this isn’t the only type of POC or waived testing that requires the use of lancets or meters/monitors. Therefore, infection control best practices should be followed for all POC testing equipment since it carries the same risk of transmitting Hepatitis B or C to patients.

Contact Infection Control Results for help to detangle the guidelines, OSHA regulations, and accreditation and CMS standards, and protect your staff and your patients.

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