Are disposable pressure cuffs a safer option?

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Blood pressure cuff is a medical device that comprises of a rubber piece or a similar material that a clinician wraps around the arm of a patient and inflates it to measure the blood pressure.

The purpose of blood pressure cuff is to take blood pressure. The cuff has an inflatable bladder made of rubber for fastening around an arm. A pressure meter indicates the pressure off the cuff. A clinician uses a small handheld air pump to inflate the blood pressure cuff. After inflating the cuff an air valve helps to release the air pressure slowly. A pressure meter indicates the disposable cuff’s pressure. As the pressure releases, a stethoscope helps a medical practitioner to listen to the arterial blood flow sounds.

The heart beat pushes the blood through arteries causing rising and falling of arterial pressure. A cuff starts by providing a record of systolic pressure the highest pressure then a decrease in pressure. The name for low blood pressure is diastolic pressure. The correct position when taking the blood pressure is to position a stethoscope to listen to the blood flow turbulence. The initial inflation of the cuff is way above the estimated systolic pressure.

Blood flow at this time does not stop and the stethoscope does not produce any sounds. The pressure slowly diminishes after opening the valve. Blood will only flow through the cuff when its pressure equals that of arterial systolic pressure. It creates blood flow turbulence that someone can now hear on a stethoscope.

A nurse or doctor will write notes on the value of cuff’s air pressure at the initial hearing of the sound.The sound of blood turbulence continues to be audible as the cuff air continues to release. The sounds will stop when the air pressure of cuff falls below a patient’s arterial diastolic pressure. The pressure when sound of blood pressure stop is an indication of diastolic pressure.

Types of Pressure Cuffs

Most of the people consider a BP cuff to be like any other but there are a number of them that designers made to satisfy the need of particular medical facilities and patients. Some of them do not even think of them as devices that are either disposable or reusable. This information helps to shed some light on different types of pressure cuffs, the way of use and the most appropriate environment for each of them.

1.Reusable cuffs

These are the cuffs in wide use because of their extreme popularity because they can be used many times. Most of the cuffs on the market are made with nylon material that is simple to clean and a reputation for durability. Doctors and nurses use them on multiple patients each day. Almost every hospital or doctors office at locations with a low risk of spreading infectious diseases has reusable cuffs. The sizes for reusable cuffs range from 8-50 centimeters (infant to thigh) circumference.

2.Disposable cuffs

These cuffs are the second to reusable by number of users but becoming popular quickly due to a growing concern about hospital acquired infections such as c-diff and MRSA. Hospitals are now turning to use of disposable cuffs as one of the precautions in the first line of defense to reduce a risk of hospital acquired infections. Manufacturers use vinyl or polyester to make disposable cuffs. These cuffs are for use on a single patient or for limited use .the use of disposable cuffs is widespread in areas where control of infections is primary concern. These include:

  • emergency rooms
  • operating rooms
  • intensive care
  • Neonatal units

The typical size for disposable pressure cuffs ranges from neonate number 1 to thigh (3cm-50cm) circumference.

3. Specialty cuffs

These pressure cuffs are patented products for special use for example in ambulatory blood pressure monitoring or in exercise stressing testing environment. An elastic sleeve in specialty cuffs is built –in to allow gentle hugging of the arms and hold the arm in place. A firm grip on the arm allows their use when someone walking or running on a treadmill for an extended period without falling off or interfering with the measuring capacity.

4. D-ring cuffs

It is extremely difficult for someone to put disposable or reusable pressure on the arm without assistance. Designers of the D-ring made them for self application to make it simple\for\people to wear it and measure their blood pressure without assistance. D-Ring cuffs are for use in self application environments and home use.

Anybody in a career relating to healthcare equipment as a practicing professional or a distributor should have mastery about the functioning of various types of blood pressure cuffs. It helps in better understanding of their application to make informed decisions about use or recommendations to a buyer.

Safety Advantage of Disposable Pressure Cuffs

A decision sometimes back by a Mumbai based public teaching hospital to discontinue the practice of reusing equipment even with the capacity to sterilize them adequately is a move that opened Pandora′s Box.

Many doctors and hospitals still reuse the equipment with intentions of reducing the overheads in their facilities. An argument by practicing medical doctors such as R. Bruce Wallace, reusing equipment could make more profits to a health center but it not guarantee that the patient will get medical service at a lesser cost. Additionally the reuse even with sterilization can increase patient safety issues and even some medical ramifications that end up legal battles.

Many healthcare professionals switch from relying on reusable instrument to disposable ones t for single use. The shift includes blood pressure cuffs. The trend will continue in the coming years as there is no 100 percent guarantee that reusable cuffs are completely sterile.

There is chance that a doctor or nurse will not clean the cuff properly with a sterilizing agent yet it could have come into contact with dead tissue, bone residue or even some body fluid. The risk is real as most of the patient who visit a doctor’s office will have other conditions to visit the facility and the pressure reading is just one of the procedures that the physician uses to make diagnosis. Harmful organisms from other sections of the body could also be on the upper arm when a nurse or doctor is placing the cuff.

Are Disposable Pressure Cuffs Economical?

Some people might think that is wastage to by pressure cuffs for one time use because they do not consider them to be high risk equipment such as surgical knives, syringes or needles. The truth is that reusable cuffs and other types of reusable office equipment have hidden costs and could end up becoming more expensive. Suppliers charge a higher cost because they believe the buyer will take more time before returning for more supplies. The cost of cleaning to remove microbicides and disinfection will cause an additional problem cost. The recommendation for cleaning and disinfecting reusable cuffs regularly as possible preferably after use by each patient yet they serve many patients a day. It is especially important because the recent studies have shown that pressure cuffs are potential carriers for transmission of nosocomial infections such as c-diff or MRSA.

New technology allows production of high quality disposable healthcare supplies at a cheaper cost thus the cost of disposable pressure cuffs is not too much compares to the reusable yet it comes with the benefits of prevention HAIs.

Factors to Consider When Buying Disposable Pressure Cuffs

More hospitals are now implementing stringent control policies to reduce the spread of hospital acquired infections. When a healthcare facility or an individual needs to purchase new disposable cuffs, it is essential to consider these factors in order to get the most comfortable and appropriate for the job.

Adherence to cuff standard: the best cuff is that from a manufacturer or distributor with an offer to standardize a facility on one connector. Since the purpose of disposable pressure cuff is for use on one patient, it is essential to ensure that it is usable on any type of monitor and at any hospital. There are different connectors in the market for use on blood pressure monitors but standardizing the hospital on a single connector improves workflow, reduces inventory and lowers the cost.

Patient identification line: The purpose of disposable pressure cuffs it to reduce the transmission of hospital acquired infections and so far they are efficient because they are for single patient use. Writing patient identification information on the cuff is verification that nobody else can use it. It helps to minimize risk of contamination and reduces the risk of acquiring infections in hospital by far.

Patient comfort: Disposable cuffs should be have rounded edges that are made or of the soft materials. If a cuff is uncomfortable, they will cause resultant patient movement during readings and might lead to many error codes or re-inflates. Listening to customer views about the comfort of disposable pressure cuffs helps to determine if they are comfortable.

Range of cuff sizes: it is important to buy disposable cuffs from a manufacturer who makes a wide range of cuff sizes. There is much difference in circumference of the upper arm in a child, teenagers, middles aged and elderly persons. A hospital should have different size cuffs for every patient to get a fitting size. Those who are buying for domestic use such as community nurses who visit patients at their homes should buy cuffs that fit the arm circumference of their patients.

Presence of range makers: A good cuff should have range markers on the in or outer part but better when it is on both sides to indicate if it is the correct for a patient. Using a cuff that is very small on a patient will make the measurement to be too high and will affect the accuracy. The measurement on the other hand will be too low if the cuff is too large on a patient.

Durability: Using a disposable cuff does not always mean discarding it after one tine use. A patient can use during the period of a hospital stay provided that there is no sharing with anybody else. It is essential for it to have durable material that can withstand much inflation as doctors and nurses will use it to take blood pressure measurements a number of times a day.

Reliable performance: Some blood pressure cuffs can leak and it is not any health care professional will want as it will generate inaccurate results. The best disposable blood pressure cuff is that from a provider who regularly conducts leak tests in the products.

Color coding:It is not all the patients who have the same size of arm circumference. The work of determining the best fit for everyone is simpler if the cuffs have a color code. It I important to find pressure cuffs from manufacturers who ad color coding to enable users in quick

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