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Medical Workstation Cleaning Guide 2022

By Team Altus
Published Jan 30, 2020 | Updated Sep 19, 2022 | 10 min read

Medical workstations have been established as important pieces of equipment in recent years. With their small footprints and mobile options, they’re the first piece of equipment a nurse grabs before heading off to help patients. While computer workstations are important to the healthcare industry, they also could pose a risk of spreading infections between patients and staff.

To reduce the spread of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), the best way is to make sure each piece of equipment, especially hospital carts, are cleaned and sanitized properly, or by using an RTLS asset tracking software. Altus created this guide for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting your computer workstations so you can keep your hospital safe while also prolonging your cart’s life.

*Please note that each individual cart may have different cleaning methods and materials, so to ensure your cart lasts as long as possible, follow the directions in the manual.

Why Cleaning Your Medical Workstation is Important

HAIs are more common than most think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say HAIs account for $28-33 million in unnecessary costs each year. In addition to the massive costs associated with HAIs, nearly 1.7 million HAIs occur each year in American hospitals, and approximately 5% of patients admitted to the hospital contract HAIs.

Many studies have shown that pathogenic and nonpathogenic organisms can survive for prolonged periods on hospital surfaces and frequently used medical equipment, such as medical carts. The list below includes common human pathogens - bacteria that can cause disease:

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

  • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)

  • Clostridium difficile

  • Acinetobacter species

  • Noroviruses

  • E. coli

  • P. aeruginosa

For bacteria to spread, all it takes is on a clinician who is in a hurry to touch a patient, then touch the computer cart without proper hand hygiene, and finally pass the bacteria to the next clinician where the cycle continues.

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting

Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting don't all mean the same thing. However, knowing the difference is essential to ensuring your medical workstation stays consistently clean.

Cleaning: Removing foreign matter visible to the naked eye, such as dirt. Cleaning does not eliminate the presence of bacteria. Cleaning can be performed using manual processes such as wiping, brushing, flushing, soaking, and adding water or detergent.

Sanitizing: Sanitizers are agents that destroy 99.999% of bacteria in 30 seconds, reducing bacteria's occurrence and growth. However, sanitizing does not eliminate some spores and viruses.

Disinfecting: This uses hospital-grade disinfectants that destroy and eliminate spores and viruses within 10 minutes. In a hospital setting, it's more important to kill all germs, even if it takes longer, making disinfecting the best option to reduce HAIs.

Best Practices to Keep your Medical Workstation Clean and Disinfected

  1. Be sure to perform proper hand hygiene before and after touching the medical workstation, or after direct or indirect contact with a patient or the patient's environment.

  2. Cleaning and disinfection must be done every time the device can become contaminated, and the clinician who is currently using the medical cart is in charge of cleaning it.

  3. Keep clutter to a minimum. Clear off any unnecessary supplies and materials you aren't using regularly.

  4. Place disinfection solutions in multiple areas where medical workstations are used, stored, or moved. Solutions placed on the equipment with a Sani-wipe holder, bracket, or bin can constantly remind and promote ease of use.

  5. Train clinicians on best practices, reminding staff of processes and the importance of cleaning and disinfecting. Also, implement a mechanism or program to monitor that the procedures are regularly followed.

  6. Frequently wipe off individual pieces of equipment like keyboard covers, computer cases, cords, and mice with good disinfecting wipes.

How Frequently You Should Clean, Sanitize and Disinfect

It's easy for bacteria and dirt to get built up on your equipment, and the chance of spreading HAIs is high, so it's essential to clean and disinfect regularly.

Workstations and equipment onboard should be cleaned and disinfected at the start and end of every shift, and whenever any part:

  • Is visibly soiled

  • Potentially came in contact with bacteria

  • When leaving a designated isolation room

Approved Disinfectants for Use Against COVID-19

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published a guide on disinfectants that meet its criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Below are some of the approved disinfectants that have shown no discoloration or damage to the finish on Altus 3D laminate worksurfaces.

  • Agar™ Powerquat

  • Bleach 1:5 (20% bleach)

  • Citrace® germicide

  • Clorox® Broad Spectrum Quaternary Disinfectant Cleaner

The full list of approved disinfectants for Altus workstations can be found here.

The Act of Cleaning and Disinfecting

In order to be effective, cleaning and disinfecting is a three-step process.

  1. Perform proper hand hygiene.

  2. Clean – with a new wipe or cloth, use a rub or scrub motion to remove dust, soil, food, feces, blood, sputum, or other foreign matter. Then, immediately go to step 2.

  3. Disinfect – with a new wipe or cloth, use a rub or scrub motion. The object must be wet for one minute and then air-dried to disinfect thoroughly.

Use a new wipe between cleaning and disinfecting, and when moving to another surface. Many studies have shown that failure to do so allows bacteria to transfer to that surface and the hands of the person holding the wipe.

How to Clean Each Section of Your Workstation

Each workstation may look different from hospital to hospital. But it’s still essential to clean and disinfect the entire workstation, including the work surface, keyboard, mouse tray, monitor, monitor support, base, stand, and exterior workstation accessories.

The most effective way to clean your medication delivery carts, mobile computer carts, or wall-mounted workstations is by using a disposable, medical-grade, disinfectant, and decontaminate wipe.

Monitor

Clinicians spend hours looking at their monitors, and a clean monitor makes it easier for them to do their tasks and prevent bacteria from spreading. The best way to clean your LCD monitor is to turn it off and gently wipe the screen and exterior plastic with a damp but not saturated microfiber cloth and an alcohol solution.

Note: Make sure to not spray water on the screen or press too hard, as this could damage your monitor's pixels. Paper products such as paper towels or tissues and cleaning cloths with sewn edges are not recommended, as they may scratch the monitor. Also, avoid exposed fan areas or ports that could be damaged.

Laptop

Be sure to unplug and turn off your laptop workstation before cleaning. Clean with cotton swabs and a hospital-grade disinfectant. For sensitive components, you can avoid scratches by using a microfiber cloth.

Battery

Many medical workstations wheels are powered with a battery to support mobile technology. In order to clean the battery powered carts, start by cleaning the exterior of the cart with a hospital-grade solution that won't wear the material. If interior cleaning is required, make sure the workstation is unplugged and use an air pressure spray to remove dust and debris.

Cables

Unplug all power accessories first. Then, to get rid of any stickiness or discoloration, dampen a cloth with the hospital-grade solution and rub the cables with it. To avoid water damage, make sure the fabric is damp rather than soaking wet.

Keyboard and Mouse

Because clinicians are likely to use a keyboard and mouse throughout the day, they can become a hotspot for bacteria, debris, and dirt accumulating between the keys.

It's best to use a keyboard and mouse that is sealed, waterproof and immersible to easily and completely clean with a hospital-grade disinfectant. Before cleaning the keyboard and mouse, check that they are off and unplugged to not ruin its working ability.

Medical Equipment

Medical equipment such as bar code holders are necessary for the job and can build up dust, dirt, and bacteria. When cleaning the exterior, use a damp wipe or cloth with hospital-grade approved products. If interior cleaning is needed, unplug the device and use an air pressure spray to remove dust and debris.

How to Clean Different Materials

Paints and Plastics

For painted metals and plastics ordinary dirt, smudges, and water-soluble stains can be removed with mild soap and water. For difficult stains, clean them by using commonly used, diluted, non-abrasive solutions such as quaternary ammonia compounds, ammonia enzyme cleaners, bleach, or alcohol solutions.

3D Laminate/Thermofoil

Many workstation surfaces are covered with a 3D laminate or thermofoil. These materials can sometimes be sensitive to cleaning solutions, so it's recommended to test any cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure the surface is not harmed.

For stubborn marks like pen and permanent and dry erase markers, they can be removed with 70% isopropyl alcohol and a soft cloth. Rub in the direction of the grain, using caution to avoid damaging the surface texture or gloss. If there is no grain direction visible, rub with a light, circular motion.

Aluminum Bases

Most durable medical workstations are built with strong materials, such as aluminum, for several years of constant use.

To make sure the bases are clean, dust regularly with a soft, clean cloth. Occasionally, it may be necessary to use a mild non-abrasive cleaner to wipe off dirt and bacteria. If scuff marks or scratches are present, use automotive polishing compounds in either liquid or paste form to quickly fix them. After polishing, apply a pre-softened automotive paste wax to restore the original sheen.

Cleaning Considerations

Even if the cleaning solution is hospital-grade approved, it is recommended that any cleaning solution be tested on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure the surface is not harmed. The best starting point is to follow the manufacturer's directions before using any hospital-grade products on the worksurface. Also, be sure to never use any abrasive materials, such as steel wool, as it could damage the surface finish.

Keeping Patients and Clinicians Healthy

Taking action to prevent bacteria from being transmitted via medical workstations and the equipment onboard can lower the risk of HAIs in patients and caregivers. In conjunction with proper cleaning and disinfecting supplies and processes, an investment in high-quality medical workstations is an investment in health for everyone. Streamline the cleaning and disinfecting process as well by implementing a hospital asset tracking system. These keep a record of what healthcare staff used what devices, where they went, and any patients they make have encountered. This takes the guesswork out of cleaning the workstations, and allows for clinicians to prevent HAIs at the source.

If you have questions regarding specifics on how to clean your Altus cart, extra information on RTLS asset tracking, or would like more information on how our carts are built to make cleaning easy, feel free to contact Altus.

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