Avoid damaging electronic equipment with liquid cleaners

Submitted by U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Over the past two years the relevant Federal agencies have learned about and collaborated to address problems associated with inappropriate use of liquids on electronic medical equipment. The problems included equipment fires and other damage, equipment malfunctions, and healthcare worker burns. These problems involved infusion pumps, ventilators, patient-controlled analgesia pumps, sequential compression device pumps, telemetry physiological signal receivers and transmitters, infusion fluid warmers, and infant anti-abduction sensors. This notification, however, is not limited to these equipment types and may be relevant to any equipment that has unsealed electronic circuitry or components, such as computer workstations, handheld devices and other monitoring equipment. The equipment malfunctions could result in life-threatening events to patients such as over-infusion of medications, loss of life-supporting drug therapy, and loss of patient ventilation.

The root cause of the problems mentioned above was likely corrosion of electronic circuitry by disinfecting or cleaning solutions that penetrated the equipment housings. Healthcare workers routinely sprayed the housings with disinfectants or wrapped the housings with disinfectant-soaked towels. These practices are generally not consistent with the equipment manufacturers’ directions for use, which typically recommend wiping the housing with a soft cloth dampened with a mild detergent and water.


  • Identify the equipment for which this notification applies.
  • Review the manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance instructions and ensure all staff are trained and will follow these instructions.
  • Protect equipment from contamination whenever possible.
  • Always adhere strictly to all the chemical manufacturer’s warnings, precautions and cautions, and carefully follow all directions for use.
  • If equipment is contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM), the equipment must be decontaminated per OSHA regulations.

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