Can a dirty insulating sleeve on the RTube pose a risk of infectious cross-contamination?
The RTube itself is a disposable single-use device and is sanitized at the factory to stringent requirements, albeit non-sterile, and shipped in a protective pouch. There is essentially zero risk of infectious cross-contamination from the RTube.
The cooling sleeve and the insulating cover, however, are reusable and typically are handled by multiple patients. These can be a potential source of contamination. Here common sense prevails; we recommend machine washing the cover in the “hot” cycle after each use. The cooling sleeve itself should be sanitized per your normal hospital process (chlorine rinse, autoclave, or comparable).
If this is impractical, you may also encase the entire cooling sleeve and insulator in a disposable protective plastic sheath. Simply pull it off after each patient, discard, and slide on a new one. This used in conjunction with a reasonable cleaning protocol is probably the best solution.
These 2 mil thick polypropylene tube tubes come on a roll and can be cut to length to cover both the cooling sleeve and insulating cover. This serves as a protective barrier to infection similar to the Ziploc bags some researchers are placing over the cooling sleeve today. A roll of this sheathing material can be purchased here.
The RTube has been used over 200,000 times since 2001 and there has never been an adverse event associated with the RTube. That’s zero adverse events for those who are counting, and we certainly are. But a perfect safety record does not substitute for reasonable precautions, and we strongly suggest the methods presented here.