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Ideas That Work: Dry Time Countdown
Let Surface Disinfectants and Skin Preps Dry
OSD Staff
Publish Date: October 5, 2015   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work
digital timers PERFECT TIMING Digital timers ensure disinfectants and preps have time to dry.

Dry Time Countdown
Let Surface Disinfectants and Skin Preps Dry

You'll find little digital timers all around my surgery center: around the PACU beds, on the back tables and on whatever surfaces we disinfect. They ensure that we let skin preps dry before we drape and that surface disinfectants stay visibly wet for the contact time listed on the label. For both, it's usually a minimum of 3 minutes.

  • Surface disinfection. When disinfecting a surface such as the OR bed or back tables, check with your disinfectant label to see what the recommended contact times are in your state, as some states require different labeling for products. Know what each solution does and how long it needs to remain visibly wet to work.
  • Skin preps. The same goes for your skin prep solutions. Read the label. You'll see that most preps state that the solution needs to completely dry before draping, usually a minimum of 3 minutes. Draping sooner than that minimizes the effectiveness of the prep and risks OR fires from not having a dry prep.

Our solution: We bought inexpensive timers for every area we disinfect, and one for each OR. We pre-set them for the required kill-time for our disinfectants and for 3 minutes for skin preps. Once the prep is completed, we start the timer and document in our nursing notes that we let the prep dry for a minimum of 3 minutes. This protects your patients, lets the prep work most effectively and minimizes the risk of igniting alcohol-based preps during surgery. Same goes for surface disinfection: Wipe the area with your preferred disinfectant and let it remains visibly wet for the recommended kill time by applying the solution or using more wipes as needed.

Thomas Durick, MD
Bay Surgery Center
Oakland, Calif.
[email protected]

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