Use of a systematic review to inform the infection risk for biomedical engineers and technicians servicing biomedical devices

Anne-Louise Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Many microorganisms responsible for hospital-acquired infections are able to stay viable on surfaces with no visible sign of contamination, in dry conditions and on non-porous surfaces. The infection risk to biomedical staff when servicing biomedical devices is not documented. An indirect approach has been used to examine the different aspects that will affect the risk of infection including a systematic review of microbial contamination and transmission relating to biomedical devices. A systematic review found 58% of biomedical devices have microbial contamination with 13% having at least one pathogenic organism. These microbes can persist for some months. Occupational-infections of biomedical service staff are low compared to other healthcare workers. A biomedical device with contaminated surface or dust was identified as the source of patient outbreaks in 13 papers. The cleaning agent most tested for removal of micro-organisms from devices was alcohol swabs, but sterile water swabs were also effective. However, manufacturers mainly recommend (74%) cleaning devices with water and detergent. Biomedical engineers and technicians have a small risk of being exposed to dangerous micro-organisms on most biomedical devices, but without skin breakage, this exposure is unlikely to cause ill-health. It is recommended that biomedical staff follow good infection control practices, wipe devices with detergent, sterile water or alcohol swabs as recommended by the manufacturer before working on them, and keep alcohol hand rubs accessible at all benches.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)431-440
    Number of pages10
    JournalAustralasian Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


    • Biomedical devices
    • Biomedical engineer
    • Medical technician
    • Occupationally acquired infection


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