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Mobile Medical Devices During Disaster: Sterility

The follwing is fourth in a series of articles reviewing FDA guidelines on using Medical Devices in a disaster, with my comments in italics from my reflections about volunteering in medical clinics following Katrina. Concerning sterility:

When performing medical procedures, maintain a clean environment by using bleach, alcohol, or a disinfectant in the area you are working (e.g., catheter changes, dressing changes, suctioning).
This was particularly difficult after the flooding following Hurricaine Katrina. Whether it was in the shelters, or where we were in St. Bernard parish, each had sterility challenges. We certainly kept our environment as clean as possible with alcohol wipes and beach to surfaces, but some things couldn't be controlled. A strong wind would regularly whip up the dust left behind in the sediment from the dried up flood waters, settling into every nook and crack. It was challenging to keep ahead of the wind.

Check sterile packaging to make sure it is dry and intact (e.g., sterile gauze).
When you purchase supplies, always check the packaging to make sure it hasn't been damaged.
In addition to checking if the packaging is torn, also make sure it's not expired by checking the expiration date.

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Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.