Covid-19 has created much uncertainty about how the world will change in its wake.Today and moving forward, sanitation is going to be of the utmost importance. In the healthcare field, where sanitation is already a top priority, what more can be done to ensure your space is as clean and safe as possible for patients?
One particular area of concern for hearing care professionalsareaudiometric booths.Booths arean enclosed space that hosts numerous patients each day. In addition to door handles and surfaces potentially being contaminated, the air in the room can also be compromised if proper measures to ensure effective ventilation aren’t taken.
Here are some recommendations Eckel and ETS-Lindgren, two of our audiometric booth manufacturing partners, have shared to help keep your testing environments as sanitary and safe as possible for patients.
After each patient visit, it is recommendedto wipe down all surfaces inside the booth with a rag dampened with an alcohol-based solution. It’s important to be mindful and not to get the rag too wet because you don’t want to accidentally soak any perforated surfaces. Also, it’s essentialto wipe down any handles, headsets, or anything else the patient may have touched. Additionally, don’t forget about carpets. You’ll want to vacuum them several times per day and spray them with disinfectant twice per day (once in the morning and once before you close in the evening).
Keep in mind that the recommended contact time for common disinfectants is between 30 seconds and 10 minutes. Wiping down surfaces and objects too soon may clean them without disinfecting. Using powerful UV lights have also been proven to help kill organic material, including viruses. According to Eckel, these are safe to use and won’t damage their audiometric booths. However, they can damage your audiometric instruments, so it’s important to remove all audiology equipment before using UV light to clean your booth.
For more recommendations on general disinfecting, please refer to the CDC’s guidelines.
When it comes to ventilation, proper management will rely heavily on the type of audiometric booth you have. According to Eckel, it’s recommended that ventilation in their booths be kept at a lower volume. Typical Eckel sound rooms are equipped with low-volume, fan-powered air handling systems that are capable of 10 to 12 air exchanges per hour. For Eckel booths hooked up to an HVAC system, the manufacturer recommends theair handling system should be balanced for no more than 80 to 100 cfm in order to maintain the acoustic integrity of the room as well as the air exchange rate.
As for ETS-Lindgren audiometric booths, the following recommendations apply:
1) Newer booths with variable speed fans
- When testing the fan will be adjusted for 6-8 air changes per hour
- When not testing the airflow can be adjusted up to 148 cfm
2) Older booths with integrated muffin fans
- 45 cfm per fan - most booths have 2 fans
3) Booths connected to building HVAC
- Recommendation is 6-8 air changes per hour
- An airflow hood will be needed to measure actual air flow
Lastly, some measures need to be taken to hinder the spread of infectious germs from the patient to the booth. It’s a good idea to set up a hand washing station near the booth and require that patients thoroughly wash their hands before testing. Having disposable surgical masks and gloves for patient use is also ideal as wearing them before entering the booth can reduce the spread of infectious germs. Additionally, it’s recommended that feet remain covered by shoes. Allowing patients to wear open-toed shoes or sandals is not advised.
Keep in mind that these recommendations are not intended to contradict or replace policies required for infection control at your facility. These are merely just suggestions to help better ensure the safety of your patients. Also be aware that we are in no way guaranteeing safety of patients with these measures. They are merely guidelines you can follow to ensure the surfaces and air within your audiometric booth stays as clean as possible.
For more information on our audiometric booths and safety recommendations, get in touch with your local e3 office today!