Alcohol for the disinfection of semi-critical materials in health care might not be effective

Added June 8, 2020

Citation:  Ribeiro MM, Neumann VA, Padoveze MC, et al. Efficacy and effectiveness of alcohol in the disinfection of semi-critical materials: a systematic review. Revista latino-americana de enfermagem. 2015 Aug;23(4):741-52.

What is this? Infection prevention and control interventions are important in healthcare settings, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Existing research on the efficacy of using alcohol as a disinfectant might provide useful information for policy makers.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for research evaluating the disinfection of semi-critical healthcare materials (such as respiratory and anaesthesia equipment, endoscopes, and dental drills) with 60–80% alcohol (w/v), with and without previous cleaning. They did not restrict their searches by date or language of publication and did the search in July 2013. They included 14 studies, which investigated the impact of alcohol disinfection on bacteria (13 studies) or on viruses (2).

What was found: The effectiveness and efficacy of alcohol disinfection of semi-critical healthcare items is uncertain.

Disinfection of semi-critical healthcare items with ~70% alcohol might be insufficient to prevent exposure of patients to viruses and bacteria. Overall, 37% of field tests and 25% of laboratory tests detected microorganisms after alcohol disinfection.

It is uncertain whether previous cleaning before alcohol disinfection is beneficial.


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