The prevalence of visible and/or occult blood on anesthesia and monitoring equipment

AANA J. 2001 Feb;69(1):44-8.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have attempted to stop the spread of blood-borne pathogens by issuing several recommendations and regulations. However, unless healthcare workers comply with these standards, they are not effective. In the anesthesia care environment, the anesthetist is responsible for ensuring that the equipment is clean, and disinfected, before use. We studied the prevalence of visible and occult blood on 6 types of anesthesia and monitoring equipment identified as ready for use in 28 operating suites, in 2 facilities. The sample consisted of 336 observations of the 6 types of equipment. The equipment was inspected for visible blood and then tested for occult blood using a 3-stage phenolphthalein test. Of the 336 observations, 110 (32.7%), were positive for occult blood with only 6 showing visible blood. The presence of blood on this equipment may be in direct violation of the OSHA Blood-borne Pathogen Standard and the infection control guidelines of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. Furthermore, the presence of blood on this equipment may increase the risk for nosocomial and occupational exposure to viral and bacterial pathogens. Recommendations were made to decrease the risks from this contamination by redesigning equipment, increasing the use of disposable equipment, and ensuring compliance with effective infection control practices.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia*
  • Equipment Contamination* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infection Control* / methods
  • Mid-Atlantic Region
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative / instrumentation*
  • Occult Blood*