There are many mixed messages surrounding the Coronavirus but something experts across the globe agree on is the importance of good hygiene. While the population is instructed to wash its hands both regularly and thoroughly, those in the medical profession must take extra precaution.
This is especially true of those handling equipment, namely scales.
We’ve recently written about the role such products play in the fight against Covid-19 but for them to make a positive rather than detrimental impact, they must be kept in pristine condition.
And that’s why extensive cleaning has never been more important.
So what are the do’s and don’t of cleaning medical scales during the course of a pandemic?
First of all, it serves to have a procedure in place that all who come into contact with the equipment will adhere to.
Everyone should be aware of what has to be cleaned, how often, by who and using what chemicals. Appropriate clothing should also be readily available.
Those entrusted will ideally have undertaken some form of training to guard against errors and/or complacency, things that could be magnified at this time.
Ordinarily, there may be some flex on the frequency of any ‘wipe down’. Some laboratories for instance may sanitise twice daily; however, this will not suffice in the current climate.
Medical scales should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after every use in a bid to halt the spread of germs and by extension a virus which may or may not be present in that location. Make no mistake, at this precise moment the cleaning is every bit as important as weighing.
It’s worth remembering that traces can survive for up to three days on surfaces made from plastic or stainless steel. Take no chances.
As for the process itself, disconnecting scales from any power source is the first port of call.
You should then clean all external surfaces with either a damp cloth or anti-bacterial wipes. The latter, unsurprisingly, stop the spread of bacteria. Alcohol based disinfectants are also useful given they are proven to reduce infectivity.
While it’s important to wipe down all areas – something removing balance pans can help with – you should be mindful not to use too much in the way of water. Liquid can easily work its way into compartments and cause irreparable damage. This will result in unwelcome expense as you’re forced to replace the equipment outright. Check the IP Rating of your scale before using water.
Moisten rather than drench thin wipes in purified water and, if possible, use a small balance brush.
Once you’re satisfied you’ve wiped away any dirt or debris, revisit all surface areas with a dry cloth. Only then should you reconnect the scale to any power socket and begin using it once more.
Adhering to his process will lessen the chance of chemicals coming into direct contact with workers skin. It will also prevent the contamination of other samples. Most importantly, it reduces the risk of spreading unwelcome diseases and unwittingly contributing to that all-important R rate.
We’ve outlined the correct way of cleaning medical scales in the midst of an epidemic but equally vital is avoiding a series of mistakes that could render the equipment unusable.
The most common of these is applying too much pressure in the cleaning process itself. Pressing down hard on the balance pan can lead to unwanted damage to loadcells. So too can holding it aloft and quite literally shaking dirt from those harder to reach areas. This is ill-advised.
As with any medical equipment, scales must be handled with care. Avoid dropping the device or being rough handed with it. Remember the upkeep of the scales is with a view to maintaining their accuracy and extending their lifespan. Mishandling it can put paid to both notions.
Also, be mindful of what cleaning products you're using. Some of the harshest, including ethanol, may react with the very materials you’ll be weighing and lead to inaccurate data. Others may simply corrode the material. Either way performance will be compromised.
While the messages and policies have changed throughout the course of the Coronavirus, consensus has always surrounded cleanliness. Those handling medical scales should be extra vigilant at this time, as the upkeep of these products has never been more important. Anyone in doubt should contact a professional so as to keep themselves and others safe.