The Risk of Cross-Infection when Marking Surgical Patients Prior to Surgery – Review of Two Types of Marking Pens

Department of Orthopaedics, Leighton Hospital, Crewe, Cheshire, UK.
Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England (Impact Factor: 1.27). 04/2007; 89(3):226-8. DOI: 10.1308/003588407X168406
Source: PubMed


Two types of marker pens were compared to find whether they produced different risks of infection transmission over different time intervals.
Twenty-four patients were marked according to the type of surgery: each had a set of new dry white-board marker (DWM) and a permanent marker (PM) pen. Once used, their tips were used to inoculate blood agar plates at different time intervals.
At 0 min, 96% of the DWM pens and 29% of the PM pens were positive of growth. At 3 and 10 min, all of the DWM pens remained positive. The rate dropped to 16.67% in 3 min down to none at 10 min for the PM pens.
DWM pens carry a significant risk of transmitting infection between patients. It is recommended that they are not used in marking. PM pens should not be used between patients in less than a 10-min interval.

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