Guidance for the decontamination of intracavity medical devices: the report of a working group of the Healthcare Infection Society

C. R. Bradley, Peter Hoffman*, K. Egan, S. K. Jacobson, A. Colville, W. Spencer, S. Larkin, P. J. Jenks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Intracavity medical devices (ICMDs) are used in a wide variety of healthcare settings. The approach to their decontamination and the resources available also differ widely. Their potential for infection transmission is considerable. Aim: To produce a comprehensive risk assessment-based approach to the decontamination of ICMDs, accompanied by an adaptable audit tool. Key recommendations: – All ICMDs should be classified according to the risks of infection transmission they pose.– The processes used for their decontamination should conform to a basic essential quality requirement, with progression towards a higher quality best practice.– After each use, all probes should initially be thoroughly cleaned.– Those probes with mucous membrane contact should be disinfected in a controlled process.– Manual disinfection would comply with essential quality requirements; validated automated disinfection would constitute best practice.– Areas of the probe and its associated parts that make contact with an operator's contaminated hand also require decontamination.– Probes in contact with sterile body tissue should be sterilized; use of sterile barriers alone is unacceptable.– All those who decontaminate ICMDs should be trained to do so.– Decontamination should occur in facilities adequately equipped and allowing a defined dirty to clean flow pathway.– There should be a documentation system that allows tracking and tracing of each probe to the patients it is used on and each episode of its decontamination.– That a healthcare provider can supply adequate decontamination should be established before a new ICMD is acquired.– The process of ICMD decontamination should be regularly audited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Michael Nevill, Associate Director of Nursing and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service for constructive comments on the audit tool.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Healthcare Infection Society


  • Decontamination
  • Disinfection
  • Intracavity medical device
  • Probe


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