Potential Risk of Cross-Contamination from Blood Pressure Cuffs

Blood pressure cuffs come into frequent contact with the skin and clothing of patients and are rarely disinfected.  Studies have been done to evaluate the extent blood pressure cuffs become contaminated with pathogens that may cause HCAI.  (Healthcare-associated infections)

A number of studies have been done resulting in the following information;

  • Blood pressure cuffs that were not decontaminated – 71% showed growth.
  • 4% of sampled cuffs were contaminated with MRSA
  • 58% of cuffs in one study showed potential pathogens. Clostridium difficile (C.diff)
    was cultured from 33% of cuffs and MRSA from 8%

While some improvement was shown wiping down the cuffs between each use with a
disinfectant wipe, this can prove to be time consuming for the healthcare staff and not always 100% effective.

Disposable, single-use blood pressure cuffs are another option.  However, this can be costly in a Non-Emergency Healthcare setting.

A newer, more cost effective option is a disposable cuff liner which can be placed between the patient and the cuff.

The liner provides a clean barrier between the skin and a potential risk of infection.
In an effort to prevent environment-associated infections in health-care facilities both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) have published guidelines that recommend the use of disposable barrier coverings to minimize surface contamination.

The studies referenced show that blood pressure and sphygmomanometer cuffs can become contaminated with pathogens that can cause HCAI during routine care.  It is important to take decontamination methods to insure patient safety.