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Should hospital nebuliser masks be single-use items?

  • Comments (2)

Should hospital nebuliser masks be single-use items? What do you think?

EXPERT COMMENT

It is important that nebuliser chambers are clean and dry before use. Medication is delivered directly to the lungs and could, if contaminated, be a source of infection. To ensure appropriate hygiene nebulisers are either single use, denoted by the symbol, and disposed of after each administration, or single-patient use, enabling nebulisers to be washed and dried in between treatments. It is important that single-use devices are not re-used as the durability of the product often diminishes after one use, resulting in poor performance (and therefore potentially poor drug delivery).

Cost consideration is an issue: single-use nebulisers, although often cheaper per item, can be more costly per inpatient episode. In A&E it may be cheaper to use single-use equipment, whereas in ward areas single-patient nebulisers may be a more cost-effective choice. Nursing staff time can be an additional resource consideration if regular washing is needed. However, if patients are expected to continue nebulised therapy after discharge their stay in hospital can be an ideal opportunity to teach them correct use, and delegating responsibility for cleaning to them supports self-management and independence.

Carol Kelly is a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University, Lancashire.

  • Comments (2)

Readers' comments (2)

  • This is my bug bear - dirty nebuliser masks. it would be great if they were all one use only but as discussed the cost implications would be far too great especially when entering the community and care home environments. what is needed is the raising of awareness of how often and how we should clean them .. And whilst we are on this subject spacer devices should also be cleaned ! well done NT for raising this subject !

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  • Thanks for raising this subject. There are cost implications to making nebulizers single use only , as already stated. For single patient use, they need to be cleaned effectively between use - staff and patient awareness is required. I have often been on clinical placements to find remains of unused medications in the chamber - how bad is that!!! It does not take long to clean chamber - it is nurses have professional responsibility to do so, as well as supporting the patient in the use and cleaning of, who may require on going nebs on discharge.

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