The blood pressure cuff, or sphygmomanometer, is one of a medical professional’s most frequently used pieces of equipment, so it needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained. Next to the stethoscope, which works hand in hand with the blood pressure cuff, the sphygmomanometer sees constant daily action. It’s standard procedure to take a patient’s blood pressure as soon as they come in.
And even though it’s a non-critical piece of equipment, blood pressure cuffs still need regular attention to ensure accurate performance. With these simple cleaning and maintenance tips, you can keep your blood pressure cuff clean and giving you the most accurate readings possible.
Why Cleaning And Maintenance Is Important
Read any sphygmomanometers reviews and you’ll see lots of great, top-quality models. But they all share one thing: they need to be cleaned and maintained. Though blood pressure cuffs are considered low-risk, they’ve still been found to be a factor in the transmission of MRSA. Therefore, regular cleaning can reduce the risks of the patient to patient transmission.
Without care and maintenance, a blood pressure cuff can give inaccurate readings which may result in an inaccurate diagnosis. Keeping your blood pressure cuff working the way it’s meant to include two parts: calibration and maintenance. If you want to learn how to calibrate a blood pressure cuff, look here.
- Every blood pressure cuff whether it’s mercury, aneroid or digital needs to be periodically calibrated to ensure the accuracy of readings. This can be done by zeroing the needle or comparing it against the readings of a manometer of known accuracy (usually a mercury model).
- Maintenance includes not only regular calibration but also cleaning and checking for any signs of wear or damage. Breaks, cracks, or holes in the air bladder or tubing can cause inaccurate readings.
When regular care, cleaning, and maintenance are practiced, you can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases while ensuring the readings your blood pressure cuff is giving are accurate. Both increase patient health and safety.
How To Clean A Blood Pressure Cuff
Cleaning a blood pressure cuff is pretty simple and can be done fairly quickly. Here’s what you do:
Cleaning the bladder, tubes, bulb pump, and gauge:
- Undo the velcro straps on the cuff and remove the air bladder from the cuff.
- Using a 70% isopropyl alcohol, .5% bleach, or a mild detergent solution on either a wipe or soft cloth, thoroughly wipe down the air bladder, tubing, bulb pump, and dial gauge.
- Wipe clean with a damp cloth (water)
- Allow to air dry
DO NOT immerse in water or cleaning liquids.
DO NOT subject these parts to any kind of sterilization process, such as an autoclave.
Cleaning the nylon arm cuff:
Some cuffs are machine washable on a delicate setting in cold water (follow manufacturer’s recommendations). You can also hand wash it in the sink using detergent or soap. It’s not recommended to iron the cuff or subject it to any sterilization process.
How Often Should You Clean Your Blood Pressure Cuff?
When deciding on how often you need to clean your blood pressure cuff, it really comes down to common sense.
Give it a cleaning when:
- It is exposed to bodily fluids
- You see visible stains, dirt, or other contamination
- You’ve used the equipment on a patient with a known infection
- You can’t remember the last time you’ve cleaned it
In a busy healthcare setting, some recommend wiping it down with a 70% alcohol wipe at the end of the day.
How To Perform Maintenance On Your Blood Pressure Cuff
Regular care and maintenance of your blood pressure cuff also have two parts: calibration and inspection for damage.
- It is recommended that aneroid sphygmomanometer be calibrated against a manometer of known accuracy which is usually a mercury sphygmomanometer every 6 – 12 months.
- You also need to check the air bladder and tubing for any tears, cracks, or holes. Cracks often form at the end of the tubes where they attach to the dial gauge, air bladder, and bulb pump.
Don’t forget to check the dial gauge for cracks in the glass cover or rattling sounds. If there is any damage, it’s probably time to get a new blood pressure cuff.
With regular care, maintenance, and a little TLC, you can keep your blood pressure cuff clean, accurate, and damage-free. This will help make sure your blood pressure readings are correct and the patient is getting the proper diagnosis without getting something extra they don’t want – like MRSA.