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July 25, 1977

Decontamination of Respiratory Therapy Equipment

JAMA. 1977;238(4):303. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280040023002

To the Editor.—  In a recent article (237:795-797, 1977), Smith and Massanari reported the presence of Acinetobacter organism in a group of patients using continuous bedside humidifiers. The authors hypothesized that the organism was deposited from the humidifier to the patient's skin and finally to the blood stream by way of the intravenous catheter. Though we shall not disagree with the contamination hypothesis, we must take exception with both the cleaning methods employed and the lack of monitoring of the existing decontamination procedure.The cleaning process as described in the article, with a phenol solution (no concentration given) and a 3% acetic acid rinse (no length of time given), cannot be considered adequate for equipment used in aerosol therapy. Use of acetic acid for decontamination of reservoir nebulizers is well known,1 though not without some controversy.2 Phenol solution (carbolic acid), though one of the oldest germacides in use