Research

Bacterial contamination of re-usable laryngoscope blades during the course of daily anaesthetic practice

Warren Lowman, Laurissa Venter, Juan Scribante

Abstract


Background and objectives. Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are largely preventable through risk analysis and modification of practice. Anaesthetic practice plays a limited role in the prevention of HAIs, although laryngoscope use and decontamination is an area of concern. We aimed to assess the level of microbial contamination of re-usable laryngoscope blades at a public hospital in South Africa. 

Setting. The theatre complex of a secondary-level public hospital in Johannesburg. 

Methods. Blades from two different theatres were sampled twice daily, using a standardised technique, over a 2-week period. Samples were quantitatively assessed for microbial contamination, and stratified by area on blade, theatre and time using Fisher’s exact test. 

Results. A contamination rate of 57.3% (63/110) was found, with high-level contamination accounting for 22.2% of these. Common commensals were the most frequently isolated micro-organisms (79.1%), but important hospital pathogens such as Enterobacter species and Acinetobacter baumannii were isolated from blades with high-level contamination. No significant difference in the level of microbial contamination by area on blade, theatre or time was found (p<0.05). 

Conclusions. A combination of sub-optimal decontamination and improper handling of laryngoscopes after decontamination results in significant microbial contamination of re-usable laryngoscope blades. There is an urgent need to review protocols and policies surrounding the use of these blades.


Authors' affiliations

Warren Lowman, Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, School of Pathology, University of the Witwatersrand, and Infection Control Services Laboratory, National Health Laboratory Services, Johannesburg

Laurissa Venter, Department of Anaesthesiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Juan Scribante, Department of Anaesthesiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

bacterial contamination; anaesthetic practice; laryngoscope; hospital-acquired infection; HAIs

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2013;103(6):386-389. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.6385

Article History

Date submitted: 2012-10-08
Date published: 2013-02-19

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