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Disinfection of surfaces and airborne virus, and pathogens on healthcare equipment

By July 11, 2024Blog Articles10 min read
Photo UV-C light

In healthcare settings, the importance of disinfection cannot be overstated. The presence of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi in these environments poses a significant risk to patients, healthcare workers, and visitors. Effective disinfection plays a crucial role in preventing the spread of infections and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all.

Failure to implement proper disinfection protocols can lead to outbreaks of healthcare-associated infections, which can have serious consequences for patients, including prolonged hospital stays, increased healthcare costs, and even mortality. Additionally, healthcare facilities have a duty to protect vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly, immunocompromised patients, and those undergoing surgery, from the potential harm caused by exposure to harmful pathogens. Therefore, thorough and regular disinfection of surfaces, equipment, and the air is essential in preventing the transmission of infectious agents and maintaining a high standard of patient care.

Furthermore, the ongoing threat of emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant pathogens underscores the critical nature of effective disinfection in healthcare settings. The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for robust disinfection measures to control the spread of airborne viruses and other infectious agents. Healthcare facilities must be prepared to respond to such public health crises by implementing stringent disinfection protocols to protect both patients and staff.

In addition to preventing the transmission of infectious diseases within the healthcare setting, effective disinfection also contributes to the overall public health by reducing the risk of community-acquired infections. By maintaining a clean and disinfected environment, healthcare facilities can help prevent the spread of infectious agents beyond their walls, ultimately contributing to the well-being of the wider population.


  • Proper disinfection in healthcare settings is crucial for preventing the spread of infections and protecting patients and staff.
  • Effective methods for disinfecting surfaces and airborne viruses include using EPA-approved disinfectants and implementing UV-C light technology.
  • Pathogens can easily contaminate healthcare equipment, highlighting the importance of regular and thorough disinfection protocols.
  • Best practices for disinfecting healthcare equipment include following manufacturer’s guidelines, using appropriate disinfectants, and implementing regular cleaning schedules.
  • Disinfecting airborne viruses presents challenges such as the need for specialized equipment and considerations for ventilation systems, highlighting the importance of thorough planning and implementation.

Effective Methods for Disinfecting Surfaces and Airborne Virus

Chemical Disinfectants

One of the most common and widely used methods is the application of chemical disinfectants. These can include alcohol-based solutions, quaternary ammonium compounds, hydrogen peroxide, and bleach-based products. Each type of disinfectant has its own spectrum of activity against different pathogens, and it is important for healthcare facilities to select the appropriate products based on their specific needs and the types of pathogens present in their environment. Additionally, proper application techniques, contact times, and concentration levels must be adhered to in order to ensure the efficacy of these chemical disinfectants.

Physical Methods

In addition to chemical disinfectants, physical methods such as ultraviolet (UV) light and ozone gas have also been shown to be effective in disinfecting surfaces and controlling airborne viruses. UV light has germicidal properties that can inactivate a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. UV-C light, in particular, has been used for decades as a disinfection tool in healthcare settings due to its ability to destroy the genetic material of pathogens, rendering them unable to replicate.

Alternative Approaches

Ozone gas, on the other hand, is a powerful oxidising agent that can penetrate hard-to-reach areas and effectively kill microorganisms on surfaces and in the air. These physical methods offer an alternative or complementary approach to chemical disinfection, providing healthcare facilities with additional tools to combat infectious agents.

Understanding the Role of Pathogens on Healthcare Equipment

Pathogens can easily colonise and survive on healthcare equipment, posing a significant risk for cross-contamination and infection transmission. Medical devices such as stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, and electronic equipment can become reservoirs for harmful microorganisms if not properly disinfected between patient uses. Additionally, high-touch surfaces in patient rooms and common areas, such as door handles, light switches, and countertops, can harbour pathogens and contribute to the spread of infections if not adequately cleaned and disinfected.

Understanding the role of pathogens on healthcare equipment is crucial for implementing effective disinfection protocols that target these potential reservoirs of infection. Moreover, the emergence of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) has further complicated the challenge of controlling pathogens on healthcare equipment. MDROs such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are particularly concerning due to their ability to survive on surfaces for extended periods and cause difficult-to-treat infections.

Healthcare facilities must be vigilant in their efforts to prevent the transmission of MDROs by implementing rigorous disinfection practices that specifically target these resilient pathogens. By understanding the role of MDROs and other pathogens on healthcare equipment, facilities can tailor their disinfection strategies to effectively mitigate the risk of cross-contamination and infection transmission.

Best Practices for Disinfecting Healthcare Equipment

In order to effectively disinfect healthcare equipment and prevent the spread of infections, it is essential for healthcare facilities to adhere to best practices for disinfection. This includes implementing a comprehensive cleaning and disinfection protocol that covers all high-touch surfaces and medical devices within the facility. Regular cleaning with detergent and water is an important first step in removing organic matter and reducing the bioburden on surfaces before applying a disinfectant.

Healthcare facilities should also ensure that they are using EPA-approved disinfectants with demonstrated efficacy against a broad spectrum of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Furthermore, it is crucial for healthcare workers to receive proper training on disinfection protocols and techniques to ensure that they are following best practices consistently. This includes understanding the correct use of disinfectants, adhering to recommended contact times, and using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling potentially contaminated equipment.

In addition to manual cleaning and disinfection, healthcare facilities may also consider implementing automated technologies such as UV-C robots or hydrogen peroxide vapor systems to supplement their disinfection efforts. These technologies can provide an added layer of protection by reaching areas that may be difficult to clean manually and by reducing the risk of human error in the disinfection process.

Challenges and Considerations in Disinfecting Airborne Virus

Disinfecting airborne viruses presents unique challenges for healthcare facilities due to the potential for aerosolised transmission and the difficulty in controlling viral particles in the air. Airborne viruses such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19) can remain suspended in the air for extended periods and pose a risk for transmission through respiratory droplets or aerosols. This mode of transmission requires specific considerations when developing disinfection strategies to effectively control airborne viruses within healthcare settings.

One challenge in disinfecting airborne viruses is the need for specialised air filtration and ventilation systems to remove viral particles from the air. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) systems can be used to capture and inactivate viral particles within ventilation systems, reducing the risk of airborne transmission. Additionally, proper air exchange rates and ventilation design are critical factors in controlling airborne viruses within healthcare facilities.

Ensuring that isolation rooms, patient care areas, and common spaces are equipped with adequate ventilation systems is essential for minimising the spread of airborne viruses. Another consideration in disinfecting airborne viruses is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by healthcare workers to prevent exposure to viral particles. In addition to standard precautions such as gloves and gowns, respiratory protection is particularly important when caring for patients with known or suspected airborne viral infections.

Healthcare facilities must provide appropriate respiratory PPE such as N95 respirators or powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) to protect staff from inhaling infectious aerosols. Proper training on the use of respiratory PPE and adherence to fit-testing requirements are essential components of a comprehensive approach to preventing occupational exposure to airborne viruses.

The Role of Technology in Disinfection of Surfaces and Airborne Virus

Automated Technologies for Surface Disinfection

Automated technologies such as UV-C robots have gained popularity as a tool for supplementing manual cleaning and disinfection efforts. These robots emit UV-C light at specific wavelengths that are germicidal, effectively killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi on surfaces within a short exposure time. UV-C robots can be used in patient rooms, operating theatres, and other high-risk areas to provide an additional layer of protection against infectious agents.

Air Purification and Filtration Systems

Furthermore, advancements in air purification technology have led to the development of sophisticated air filtration systems that can effectively remove viral particles from the air. HEPA filters are capable of capturing particles as small as 0.3 microns with high efficiency, making them an essential component of air filtration systems in healthcare settings. In addition to filtration, UVGI systems can be installed within ventilation ducts to irradiate airborne pathogens and prevent their spread within the facility.

Antimicrobial Materials for Surface Protection

In addition to automated technologies, advancements in antimicrobial materials have also contributed to the fight against surface contamination and infection transmission. Antimicrobial coatings containing silver ions or copper alloys have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses on surfaces, providing a continuous level of protection between regular cleaning and disinfection cycles. These materials can be incorporated into high-touch surfaces such as door handles, handrails, and countertops to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and contribute to a safer healthcare environment.

Future Trends in Disinfection of Healthcare Settings

Looking ahead, future trends in the disinfection of healthcare settings are likely to focus on innovation, sustainability, and adaptability in response to emerging infectious threats. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated research and development efforts towards novel disinfection technologies that can effectively control airborne viruses and other infectious agents. This includes advancements in UV-C light technology, such as pulsed xenon UV systems that offer rapid disinfection cycles with broad-spectrum efficacy against pathogens.

Furthermore, there is growing interest in sustainable disinfection solutions that minimise environmental impact while maintaining high levels of efficacy. This includes the development of eco-friendly disinfectants with reduced chemical toxicity and biodegradable properties, as well as the use of energy-efficient UV-C systems that consume less power while delivering effective germicidal performance. As sustainability becomes an increasingly important consideration for healthcare facilities, future trends in disinfection are likely to align with broader environmental stewardship goals.

Adaptability in response to evolving infectious threats is also a key trend in the future of healthcare disinfection. The ability to quickly deploy effective disinfection measures in response to emerging pathogens will be essential for mitigating the risk of outbreaks within healthcare settings. This may involve leveraging mobile disinfection units that can be rapidly deployed to hotspots or implementing flexible disinfection strategies that can be tailored to specific infectious threats based on their mode of transmission and resistance profiles.

In conclusion, effective disinfection is paramount in maintaining a safe and healthy environment within healthcare settings. By understanding the importance of disinfection, implementing best practices for surface and airborne virus control, leveraging technology for enhanced disinfection capabilities, and anticipating future trends in infection control measures, healthcare facilities can continue to uphold high standards of patient care while mitigating the risk of infectious outbreaks. As new challenges emerge and infectious threats continue to evolve, it is imperative for healthcare facilities to remain proactive in their approach to disinfection in order to safeguard both patients and staff from potential harm caused by harmful pathogens.


What is the importance of disinfecting surfaces and airborne virus and pathogens on healthcare equipment?

Disinfecting surfaces and airborne virus and pathogens on healthcare equipment is crucial in preventing the spread of infections in healthcare settings. It helps to protect patients, healthcare workers, and visitors from acquiring and transmitting harmful viruses and pathogens.

How does disinfection of surfaces and airborne virus and pathogens on healthcare equipment help in preventing infections?

Disinfection kills or inactivates harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, reducing the risk of transmission and infection. It helps to maintain a clean and safe environment in healthcare facilities, reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

What are the common methods used for disinfecting surfaces and airborne virus and pathogens on healthcare equipment?

Common methods for disinfecting surfaces and airborne virus and pathogens on healthcare equipment include using chemical disinfectants, UV-C light, and hydrogen peroxide vapor. Each method has its own efficacy and application depending on the type of equipment and the level of disinfection required.

How often should surfaces and airborne virus and pathogens on healthcare equipment be disinfected?

Surfaces and airborne virus and pathogens on healthcare equipment should be disinfected regularly, following a schedule based on the level of risk and usage. High-touch surfaces and equipment in patient care areas should be disinfected more frequently than low-risk areas.

What are the considerations for choosing the right disinfectant for healthcare equipment?

When choosing a disinfectant for healthcare equipment, factors such as the type of microorganisms to be targeted, the material compatibility of the equipment, and the ease of use should be considered. It is important to select a disinfectant that is effective against a broad spectrum of pathogens and safe for the equipment and the environment.