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I have just been reviewing some policies on Cross Infection, which included the usual missives about surgery cleaning routines. We are expected to wet-wipe all surfaces and appliances between patients including the computer keyboards. In fact HTM 05 01 specifically mentions keyboards –
- covers should be provided over computer keyboards; or conventional keyboards should be replaced with “easy-clean” waterproof keyboards as recommended in the Department of Health’s (2008) ‘Clean, safe care: reducing infections and saving lives’.
- Where covers or conventional keyboards are provided, care should be taken to ensure that covers are changed or that washing is performed at frequent intervals. This should be regarded as a useful priority.
I have just realised that computer mice (as opposed to the furry variety which have no place in the surgery!) are not mentioned. Yet we use a mouse for most computer operations and touch these little devils just as often as the keyboard. I am sure that we have all thought of this and have found ways around the problem, usually involving miles of cling film, a steady hand and lots of swearing. Despite this, these devices are still a weak point in the Infection Control chain.
Just to reassure you, though, that there is a relatively cheap answer out there. I always thought that waterproof mice (more smiles) might be very expensive but I have shopped around and found a couple at reasonable cost.
- Keytools `Sterile Mouse` is available from their website for £44.92 (plus VAT). This is completely sealed, washable and designed for the clinical environment.
- Amazon are stocking the `Seal Shield Silver Storm Medical Grade Waterproof Antimicrobial Scroll Mouse` for £34.80 (inc. VAT), again designed for surgeries.
Following on from this, it is such a good exercise to place a chair on the opposite side of the surgery to where you normally sit and spend a few minutes mentally walking through the last procedure you did. Where the patient walked and what they touched. Similarly, what the clinical team touched, where instruments were put, what drawers were opened and what was subsequently cleaned. I was always taught that Risk Assessment was about lining up slices of Swiss cheese (which represent the Risk Treatments and assessing whether any holes lined up all the way through. In this case, it may not be just the mouse which has escaped the trap.