For pregnant mothers-to-be, getting a vaginal ultrasound provides a clear picture of the developing embryo. This is an important procedure to ensure that the baby is healthy and safe. To continue to ensure the health and safety of both mom and baby, women should make sure to ask about proper disinfection protocol. Here’s what women need to know about vaginal ultrasounds and high-level disinfection (HLD).
WHAT IS HLD PROTOCOL?
In between ultrasounds, disinfection of the instruments used is crucial for preventing the spread of bacteria. In the past, clinicians used to use manual cleaning techniques to disinfect equipment between uses. However, this has been shown to be less effective in removing all bacteria than automated HLD procedures. By definition, HLD refers to the process of eliminating all microorganisms to prevent cross-contamination.
“To deliver maximum patient safety, disinfection and infection control methods need to meet or exceed today’s demanding requirements.”
– Dr. Peter McGovern
HOW DOES HLD WORK?
With HLD, the process is efficient and odorless. The ultrasound probe does not need to be detached from the machine, meaning that physicians are able to see patients more efficiently without being held up by disinfection processes. Having an automated disinfection protocol can put patients’ minds at ease, knowing that all equipment is thoroughly sterilized between each use. Additionally, all ultrasounds are performed with a sterile cover that is changed for each patient.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Studies have shown that HLD prevents the spread of infectious diseases, such as human papillomavirus (HPV). Research has found that disinfection methods using sonicated hydrogen peroxide reduced HPV contamination the most. Additionally, this disinfection protocol used an automated device instead of manual cleaning, which is consistent with HLD best practices.
ASK ABOUT ACCREDITATION
Accreditations help provide checks and balances to ensure that clinics are operating under the correct guidelines. Clinics accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care undergo ongoing peer review and evaluation. These sites are visited at least every 3 years to ensure that all safety protocol is being followed and that the clinic is continuing to offer the highest quality of care.
Vaginal ultrasounds are common procedures. Women should advocate for personal health and the health of the baby by asking about the disinfection protocol. To learn more about HLD and ultrasound disinfection, consult a healthcare provider or OB/GYN.