March 12, 2010 | | Comments 2
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Medical equipment cleaning: Bags, tags, and ribbons

The trick when it comes to cleaning medical equipment is how will frontline staff differentiate between clean and dirty items.

Some of the options I’ve seen include:

  • Putting plastic bags over stuff that has been cleaned
  • Tying tags onto equipment indicating it’s clean
  • Attaching use stickers (which generally don’t work very well because they are a pain in the tuchus to scrape off when things get cleaned).

A client I was at recently used different color ribbons tied to the equipment. They used blue and green ribbons, which I suspect is probably a little too close together in the color spectrum.

You really want folks to be able to easily tell the difference — maybe red or orange for soiled and green for clean, something along those lines. Either way, I do like the ribbon concept.

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Filed Under: Environment of care


Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at

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  1. We receive custom nerve block trays which include spinal needles we often do not use on particular interventional pain management procedures. We removed the needle prior to the start of the case, after opening the sterile field. We have tested the needle by putting it through our steam autoclave to sterilize it after it is removed from the tray, (unused) so that we might use it on another procedure. The integrity of the needle isn’t affected. Would it be acceptable to use it on a case, as long as the sterility is not compromised.

  2. My understanding is that unless you have specific written instructions from the company you cannot reprocess the item. If you do, you have set yourself up to be a third party reprocessor and fall under those guidelines which are very stringent.

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