Ophthalmology devices pose infection risk to patients, Joint Commission warns

Inadequate disinfection of ophthalmology devices could spread infections like adenovirus and hepatitis C among patients, The Joint Commission warned in a May 21 safety notice.

The accrediting body said many healthcare providers are improperly disinfecting ophthalmology devices such as tonometers and eye specula due to a lack of awareness, poor training or misinterpretation of manufacturer instructions.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology said the following diseases could be transferred between patients due to improperly disinfected devices:

  • Adenovirus
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Enterovirus 70
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Acanthamoeba

The Joint Commission is encouraging healthcare providers to review disinfection instructions to ensure ophthalmology devices are properly reprocessed. Providers should also ensure instruments that come into direct contact with the eye are reprocessed with an FDA-approved disinfectant. Some products listed as "compatible" in manufacturer instructions may be intended for precleaning, not disinfection.

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