Crit Care Clin. 2005 Oct;21(4):653-72, v. doi: 10.1016/j.ccc.2005.06.001.


Decontamination is the removal or reduction of chemical, biologic, or radiologic agents from the patient's skin, mucosa, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. Decontamination is an important step in decreasing the clinical effects of the agent on the patient, as well as protecting coworkers from exposure. For most agents and the vast majority of scenarios, the removal of clothing and a simple 5- to 6-minute shower with soap and water is sufficient to eliminate the risks to the patient and hospital staff. In rare circumstances, additional steps in decontamination including gastric lavage, broncho-alveolar lavage, surgical removal of wound foreign bodies, and administration of activated charcoal, polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution, and radioisotope binding agents, may be necessary.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel
  • Bioterrorism
  • Chemical Warfare
  • Decontamination* / methods
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Gastric Lavage
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Radioisotopes
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy


  • Radioisotopes