Disinfectants: A Primer With A Focus on Use in Healthcare Facilities

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Proper cleaning and disinfection/sterilization of devices and surfaces are critical to safely providing care to patients in healthcare facilities. This lecture provides healthcare personnel with a comprehensive overview of when and how sterilants and disinfectants should be used with a focus on critical instruments/devices (i.e., enter sterile body tissue), semi-critical devices (i.e., have contact with mucous membranes or non-intact skin) and non-critical devices and surfaces (i.e., have contact only with intact skin). The following will also be discussed: the ideal disinfectant, monitoring cleaning effectiveness of surfaces, no touch methods of room disinfection, and how to manage a breach in proper disinfection/sterilization of medical instruments.

Learning Objectives

When you complete this webinar you will be able to:

  • Understand the properties of the ideal disinfectant
  • Understand the advantages and disadvantages of disinfectants/sterilants for use with critical, semi-critical, and non-critical devices and surfaces
  • Understand the Spaulding classification and its use in selecting disinfectants and sterilization methods in healthcare facilities



David Weber, MD, MPH, FSHEA, FIDSA, FRCM, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, UNC School of Medicine; Professor of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health; Medical Director, UNC Hospitals’ Departments of Hospital Epidemiology (Infection Prevention); Associate Chief Medical Officer, UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, NC.

Dr. David Weber is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease, Critical Care Medicine, and Preventive Medicine. He has been on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1985, where he is currently a Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics in the School of Medicine, and a Professor of Epidemiology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Dr. Weber serves as an Associate Chief Medical Officer for UNC Hospitals. He also serves as the Hospital Epidemiologist and the Coordinator for Highly Communicable Diseases UNC Hospitals. Dr. Weber has published more than 420 scientific papers in the peer-reviewed literature and more than 600 total papers and chapters. His research interests include the epidemiology of healthcare-associated infections, disinfection and sterilization, new and emerging infectious diseases (novel influenza, SARS-coV, MERS-coV, Ebola, Candida auris), response to biothreats, nontuberculous mycobacteria, control of drug resistant pathogens, immunization practices (especially of healthcare personnel), zoonotic diseases, and epidemiology of tuberculosis. 

Continuing Education

Origination date: 01/12/21
Expiration date: 01/12/23

CME: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

CNE:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates this activity for 1.0 nursing contact hours.

CEU:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is authorized by IACET to offer 0.1 CEU's for this program.

CECH: Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a designated provider of continuing education contact hours (CECH) in health education by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. This program is designated for Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES®) and/or Master Certified Health Education Specialists (MCHES®) to receive up to 1.0 total Category I continuing education contact hours. Maximum advanced level continuing education contact hours available are 0.  Continuing Competency credits available are 1.0. CDC provider number 98614.

For Certified Public Health Professionals (CPH): The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a pre-approved provider of Certified in Public Health (CPH) recertification credits and is authorized to offer 1.0 CPH recertification credits for this program.

Disclaimer: This was supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and funded (in part) by the cooperative agreement award number 6 NU61TS000296-02-01 from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Acknowledgement: ATSDR does not endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in PEHSU publications.



Disinfectants: A Primer With A Focus on Use in Healthcare Facilities
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