Tap Water is Not Made To Sterilize Home Medical Devices: Survey Finds Most People Think it is
A new federal survey has discovered that many people in the United States believe tap water is suitable for sterilizing home medical devices. This can become a significant issue if medical devices aren’t properly cleaned and sterilized.
This presents an opportunity for healthcare workers to educate patients, family members, and friends on how to clean these devices properly when discharging patients.
Though most US tap water meets drinking standards and is safe, there are still low levels of microorganisms found in the systems that hold and carry water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these microorganisms are primarily harmless, though it is not recommended to use tap water beyond cooking, drinking, and bathing.
The survey found that one-third of respondents believe tap water does not have bacteria or living things present. The CDC reported that most people understand what sterile water is and know tap water is not sterile, but they still believe it is safe for medical devices.
It was also found that more than half of the participants believe tap water is good for rinsing sinuses, and 13% of people said they do so. 50% believe tap water is safe to rinse contact lenses, and 9% of people do. It was found 24% filled humidifiers and CPAP machines with tap water, and 42% thought that was safe.
Healthcare providers can help educate people by informing them that if they can’t access or purchase sterilized water by boiling water for 5 minutes, then cooling, or exposing it to ultraviolet (UV) treatment for 45 seconds, you can sterilize tap water. The CDC recommends boiling water for 1 minute or 3 minutes at elevations greater than 6,500 feet for safer water for nasal rinsing.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for healthcare providers to educate patients and their family members to help curate safer use of medical devices” – Joe Kubulak, Chief Operating Officer at SpecialtyRx.