Patients suffering from irreversible end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are a particularly vulnerable group of individuals. They require various forms of treatment including hemodialysis (HD) a form of renal replacement therapy. It is important to retain the integrity of the equipment. To ensure this is valid, various forms of tests are performed on the equipment, including formaldehyde testing.
Why Are HD Patients so Vulnerable to Healthcare-Associated Infections?
Hemodialysis (HD) patients require special care. They are very vulnerable to a variety of health issues resulting from their situation. Infections are a common problem resulting from their susceptibility to and because of diverse physical characteristics including:
- Suffering from immunosuppression
- Regular exposure to many invasive devices
- Exposure to other patients if they are undergoing hemodialysis as an outpatient
- Regular contact with a diverse group of health care professionals from nurses and doctors to personal health care workers
It becomes essential, in such cases, to ensure as much as possible the instrumentation used is as clean, disinfected and sterile as possible. The same also applies to the overall environment in which HD takes place.
Hemodialysis Systems Cleanliness and Formaldehyde Testing
An HD system consists of a variety of components. These are:
- Hemodialysis machines
- A water supply
- Water-treatment systems
- Distribution systems
These, in turn, consist of lines, tubes, connectors and other parts. To ensure the HD patients are not subjected to various infections and other problems, it is imperative the designated staff clean the equipment thoroughly and to the highest standards. This generally involves the employment of a variety of disinfectants including:
- Heat pasteurization
- Peracetic acid
This comprises what can be an effective HD infection prevention and control program created with the sole purpose of decreasing any risk for HD patients contracting infections of any type. Those in charge, however, also need to perform testing – including for the presence of formaldehyde, to ensure the devices do not create further problems. If, for example, the sample of formaldehyde employed in the process was at 4% (the highest recommended level when used as a sole germicide), after cleaning, residues can remain posing a risk to HD patients. Testing will indicate the amounts present and can be performed after the cleaning and following rinsing to make sure the problem is eradicated.
It cannot be stressed enough that the machinery used to help HD patients be properly cleaned, disinfected and sterilized. In the past, failure to do so correctly has resulted in this vulnerable sector acquiring various pathogenic bacteria and blood borne viruses. While both the FDA and the EPA regulate the disinfectants used in the reprocessing of the equipment, it is always important to perform the right testing before using. This includes formaldehyde testing.