Overzealous or improper cleaning of electrical equipment can result in equipment malfunction, damage, or fire. Medical devices and other electrical equipment used in healthcare facilities must be cleaned and disinfected to prevent cross-contamination between patients and curtail the spread of infectious organisms. However, some cleaning practices can present risks.
The use of cleaning or disinfectant wipes that are dripping with excess fluid, or spraying liquids directly onto powered medical devices and equipment, can cause fluid to enter electrical components such as plugs, sockets, or power supplies. Repeated fluid ingress, and the residue it leaves behind, can create errant current pathways around the electrical component. These additional currents can eventually generate sufficient heat to cause a device failure, or worse.
ECRI is aware of multiple instances in which cleaning fluid seeping into electrical components has led to equipment damage or fire. Incidents have involved infusion pumps, OR tables, infant warmers, and electrical equipment such as light switches and power supplies.
When cleaning electrical equipment, staff should follow manufacturer instructions, they should avoid spraying fluids directly onto the equipment, and they should use appropriate cloths, wipes, and sponges (squeezing out excess liquid before use).