Objectives: Bedside ultrasound in the emergency department is a common diagnostic tool, especially when evaluating trauma patients. Many trauma patients have blood on their chest and abdomen that may contact the probe during examination. The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether occult blood contamination was present on the emergency department ultrasound machine, both after daily use and after use in trauma.
Methods: For a period of 31 days, the ultrasound machine at the trauma centre emergency department in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was tested once daily and following all Level 1 traumas. The ultrasound machine probes and keyboard were swabbed, and contamination was detected using a commercially available phenolphthalein blood testing kit. Any visible blood contamination was also noted. The machine was then cleaned following each positive test and re-tested to ensure the absence of contamination.
Results: Over the study period, the ultrasound machine tested positive for occult blood contamination on 10% of daily tests and on 43% of assessments after its use in trauma. The curvilinear probe was most frequently contaminated (daily, 6%; trauma, 26%), followed by the keyboard (daily, 3%; trauma, 26%), but both lacked visible contamination.
Conclusions: In this single centre study, there was evidence of occult blood on the emergency department ultrasound machine after both routine use and major trauma cases, highlighting the need for a standardized cleaning and disinfection protocol.
Keywords: blood contamination; emergency department; occult contamination; ultrasound.