Objective: Disinfectable needle-free closed connectors were designed to avoid needle-stick injuries and to be easily disinfected before handling. Workloads or lack of knowledge, however, could impede the correct handling of these devices, allowing endoluminal catheter colonization. The aim of our study was to assess the barrier effect of different disinfectable needle-free closed connectors during correct and incorrect handling using an experimental model.
Design: We used a model consisting of a blood culture bottle with a peripheral venous catheter inserted under sterile conditions. Three different disinfectable needle-free closed connectors with different valve designs (microClave, Bionector, and Smartsite plus) were used to close the catheters. The external surfaces of the disinfectable needle-free closed connectors were contaminated with different concentrations of a Staphylococcus epidermidis culture broth. After contamination, 10 units of each connector and each concentration were assigned to the correct handling group (cleaned with 70% ethylic alcohol before handling) and the same number to the incorrect handling group (handled without disinfection) with a total of 180 bottles.
Results: Increases in concentrations of external contamination and incorrect handling of the connectors resulted in an increase in connectors' permeability to the pass of microorganisms to the endoluminal way. MicroClave proved the best barrier in the experimental conditions described.
Conclusion: The barrier effect of disinfectable needle-free closed connectors is adversely affected by incorrect handling, the quantity of external valve colonization, and the valve design.