Infection control protocols are set in place to not only keep patients and audiologists safe, but also to ensure accurate test results. Audiologists must be diligent in their efforts to control the spread of infectious diseases within their practice by following suggested infection control guidelines. Continue reading our blog as we discuss the importance of infection control in audiology. We cover why disposable ear tips should never be reused, how reused ear tips may lead to inaccurate test results, and where you can purchase high-quality ear tips and other disposable products.
Despite even the most rigorous cleaning methods in clinical practice, choosing to reuse ear tips will put both patients and audiologists at risk for cross-contamination, possibly leading to infection.
Cerumen isn’t infectious on its own, but when it’s contaminated with blood or mucus, it must always be considered a potential infectious agent. Due to the color and viscosity of cerumen, visual detection of blood or ear discharge contaminates may not be possible, which is why it should always be treated as with extra caution. Although there are four principal modes of microorganism transmission (contact, vehicle, airborne, and vector-borne), contact transmission remains the most common means of cross-contamination and disease transmission in audiology clinics. Therefore, gloves may also be used when handling audiology equipment, such as earmolds and hearing aids or when submersing or removing instruments into cold sterilant, to similarly decrease the possibility of infection.
Ear tips are made of a material that can be affected when cleaned and reused. If an eartip comes in contact with disinfectant solution or cerumen, the material becomes hardened, and therefore, less flexible. Cracked or rigid eartips may interfere with obtaining a proper seal. Without a tight seal in the ear canal, this may extend test time, lower the quality of measurements, and even provide misleading and inaccurate test results.
Keep Your Patients Safe
Protection against the transmission of diseases and infections should be approached from a preventative standpoint. Thanks to the implementation of infection control measures such as following label guidelines and appropriate disposal, it has been documented that infection rates in clinics and other practices have been reduced or eliminated.
Overall, single use ear tips and all other disposable accessories are an easy solution to lower the probability of transmitting infection. Our latex-free, medical grade silicone ear tips ensure your test results are quick and accurate, made possible with an optimal fit and seal.
American Academy of Audiology: Infection Control in Audiological Practice. http://www.audiology.org/resources/documentlibrary/pages/infectioncontrol.aspx
Kemp. R.J., Pearson, D.W., & Ballachandra, B. B. (1996). Infection Control for the Professions of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology. Olathe, KS: Iles Publications. http://audiologyonline.com/articles/pf_article_detail.asp?article_id=214
Laura Prigge, AuD is the Manager of Clinical Education and Training at GSI. Laura received her Doctorate of Audiology degree from AT Still University, a Master's of Arts in Audiology from UCONN and a Bachelor's of Science degree in Communication Disorders from Western Illinois University. Laura’s 20+ years of experience includes providing manufacturing support for a leading hearing aid manufacturer as well as technical audiology training and support for an international audiologic equipment company. Prior to that, she managed education and training at another hearing aid manufacturer and conducted audiologic evaluations on children, adults, and geriatric patients at a retail hearing center.