Any institution that requires sanitization and/or disinfection, such as medical facilities, long term care facilities, food processing plants, wineries, etc. knows all too well that time is a precious commodity. One particular industry that places the greatest amount of importance on time is the diagnostic industry. Large diagnostic companies perform thousands of diagnostic tests daily, and the clinical analyzers used to perform these test must run at very high throughputs with very high accuracy and precision.
To do this, these analyzers must be disinfected often to prevent false readings. The issue that can arise with this is that sometimes the disinfection cycles can take up a large amount of time, as well as increase the amount of necessary maintenance on the machines due to material incompatibilities with the disinfectant.
As stated earlier, it is very important to keep the clinical chemistry analyzers clear of any pathogens or microbes that may cause any type of false readings. These false readings increase the number of tests required for patients as they must be ran again. One way to avoid this is to disinfect the machine with a liquid biocide.
Many different types of disinfectants are used in the diagnostics industry to accomplish this disinfection, but unfortunately many companies may not be using the most efficient chemical. There are two things to consider when discussing downtime during disinfection: the number of cycles required to achieve disinfection, and the number of flushes it takes to rid the disinfectant from the analyzer.
Cycles and Flushes
First, some biocides require multiple cycles in order to achieve full disinfection. This is because of their weakness against bio-slimes, as well as their inability to clean head spaces and their high reduction potential, or the tendency they have to oxidize materials. Because many liquid disinfectants are ionically charged, the polysaccharide layer that accompanies biofilm prevents the liquid from penetrating to the layer of microbes hidden underneath.
Again, because of their liquid form, sometimes it is a challenge to reach all spaces and crevices inside of the machine. The reduction potential of the chemical is, as stated, the tendency to oxidize certain materials. If a chemical has a high reduction potential, they will react with inorganic material, thus losing some “power” with which could have been used to eliminate microbes.
Second, also because of the ionic charge, liquid disinfectants require many flush cycles to be completely rinsed from the system. If the ions have the same charge as the water used to rinse, they will repel each other and remain attached to their surface.
In addition to the above, many disinfectants can be corrosive or abrasive. This is due to the previously mentioned high reduction potential. For instance, bleach (or sodium hypochlorite) is accompanied with a high reduction potential. This means that it is more likely to oxidize any materials it comes into contact with inside of the analyzer. Over time, this can cause an increase in machine maintenance such as replacing parts. This can cause a great deal of down time, as a technician is required.
Reducing These Downtimes
It is possible to reduce these downtimes caused by many liquid disinfectants. Pure chlorine dioxide, a gas suspended in water, combats many of the downsides listed above. For instance, its lower reduction potential makes it much less corrosive, cutting down on machine repair.
Also, because it is a gas suspended in water, it is not ionically charged, meaning it better combats bio-slimes, as well as clean head spaces, thus reducing the number of required disinfection cycles. Also, due to the lack of charge, it requires less flush cycles as it will not repel the water that is intended to flush it. You can learn more about the advantages of using chlorine dioxide to disinfect your clinical analyzers here.