Non-critical Patient-care Items

During the course of their intended use, non-critical items (also known as clinical contact surfaces) come in contact with intact skin but not mucous membranes.2-4 Intact skin acts as an effective barrier to most microorganisms; therefore, the sterility of items coming in contact with intact skin is “not critical.” In oral healthcare settings non-critical items such as radiographic equipment, blood pressure cuffs, facebows, pulse oximeters, examination and curing lights, and computers pose the least risk of transmission of infection.

Because cleaning and disinfection of non-critical items and clinical contact surfaces can be difficult or damaging to their surfaces, disposable barrier protection is the preferred infection control method during their use.2-4 When non-critical items become visibly soiled, they must be cleaned and disinfected using a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered hospital-level disinfectant with tuberculocidal claim.2-4,6-8 The use of EPA-registered products (Box A), consistent with their labeling, complies with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.1,6

Box A. Classification of EPA-registered disinfectants.6

List A: EPA’s Registered antimicrobial products as sterilizers.
List B: EPA Registered tuberculocidal products effective against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
List C: EPA’s Registered antimicrobial products effective against the HIV-1.
List D: EPA’s Registered antimicrobial products effective against the HIV-1 and the HBV.
List E: EPA’s Registered antimicrobial products effective against Mycobacterium
tuberculosis
, the HIV-1 and the HBV.
List F: EPA’s Registered antimicrobial products effective against the HCV.
List G: EPA’s Registered antimicrobial products effective against Norovirus.
List H: EPA’s Registered antimicrobial products effective against methicillin
resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin resistant Enterococcus
faecalis or faecium
(VRE).
List J: EPA’s registered antimicrobial products for medical waste treatment.
List K: EPA’s registered antimicrobial products effective against Clostridium difficile spores.
List L: EPA's registered antimicrobial products that meet the CDC criteria for use against the
Ebola virus.