Are cup electrodes putting your patients at risk?

Reusable EEG electrodes could be a source bacteria causing HAI1

Did you know that EEG electrodes are classified as semi-critical devices?2 That means they are subject to high-level disinfection requirements3 – the same as bronchoscopes and colonoscopes. 

Insufficient cleaning of reusable EEG electrodes can lead to hospital-acquired infections (HAI).1 A report by WHO says that HAI are the most frequent adverse events in healthcare. 7-10% of all hospitalized patients worldwide will be subject to at least one HAI.3 Treating HAI are costly for the healthcare sector and can be a major burden to patients.1 

1 out of 4 reusable EEG
electrodes are contaminated1

A recent multi-center study examined whether cleaned, ready-for-patient-use reusable EEG electrodes harboured bacteria that could lead to human infection.1
1 out of 4 were found to be contaminated.1 The positive cultures were labelled by risk of HAIs. 90% of the contaminated, cleaned, ready-to-use reusable EEG electrodes harboured bacteria with the potential to lead to HAI.1

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Download the summary of the multi-center Study now.  

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Are you putting your patients at risk?

All in- and out-patients are at risk of HAI. Certain patient groups are at a higher risk, such as patients cared for in specialized areas or in high-dependency units.4

EEG electrodes are semi-critical devices applied on abraded skin. Study results show a high number of cleaned ready-to-use reusable EEG electrodes contaminated with at-risk or potential risk bacteria.1 Thus, it may be advisable to re-evaluate cleaning methods and general standard practices for EEG electrodes.1

Alternatively, single-use EEG electrodes may be considered to minimize the potential risk of patient-to-patient cross-contamination.1 

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It is costly, complex and time consuming to disinfect 

Cleaning alone does not remove bacteria. Disinfection is required to remove microscopic debris, including blood. 

There are three levels of disinfection and reusable EEG electrodes require the highest level.3  The cleaning guidelines for this are complex. If followed, the cleaning process takes approximately 20 minutes. Alternatively, guidelines suggest that reusable EEG electrodes could be sterilized by autoclaving.

The cost of disinfection

When following official guidelines, cleaning reusable EEG electrodes is complex and time-consuming. When you combine the cost of reusable EEG electrodes with the cost (and time) spent on cleaning them, reusable EEG electrodes can become expensive devices. 

Your hospital can reduce the risk of HAI

Many hospitals have adopted strict disinfection techniques as part of a multi-barrier strategy to prevent HAI. To eliminate the potential risk of cross-contamination, single-use EEG electrodes could be considered.1



  1. N. M. M. Albert et al (2018) Contamination of Reusable Electroencephalography Electrodes: A Multi-Center Study

  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements

  3. N. K. Scott (2013) Infection Prevention: 2013 Review and Update for Neurodiagnostic Technologists, The Neurodiagnostic Journal, 53:4, 271-288

  4. International Organisation of Societies for Electrophysiological Technology (OSET) – Guidelines for infection control in clinical Neurophysiology department