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Q: How should we soak contaminated specula, in an enzyme cleanser or glutaraldehyde? It seems that if an employee has a sharps injury from contaminated specula that have been soaking in enzyme cleaner (rather than glutaraldehyde), they would need to go through the usual sharps injury procedures and blood testing.

A: First, don't use glutaraldehyde for the initial cleaning/soaking, because the danger of this chemical overrides the possible advantage for the instance you mentioned. The chance of an employee sustaining a sharps injury from a contaminated speculum is almost nonexistent, unless surgical instruments are also soaking in the same container. In this case, be sure employees use a strainer or tongs rather than reaching in and handling items. Employees should also wear heavy-duty utility gloves to handle contaminated specula. So, soak in just soapy water or enzymatic cleaner, then clean and rinse with water, then follow with either an autoclave or a glutaraldehyde soak.

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