Prolonged and multipatient use of prefilled disposable oxygen humidifier bottles: safety and cost.
OBJECTIVES: Multipatient use and prolonged use of prefilled disposable oxygen humidifier bottles (Aquapak 301, Respiratory Care, Inc., Arlington Heights, IL) were evaluated by performing microbiologic monitoring and a cost analysis on bottles used for varying numbers of patients and lengths of time. METHODS: Humidifiers were hung for a maximum of one month. Monitoring was conducted in 6 different nursing areas. Quantitative cultures were done for aerobes and Legionella. Reusable humidifier bottles also were monitored. RESULTS: Cultures were obtained from 1,311 disposable and 60 reusable humidifiers. No significant bacterial contamination was detected in the prefilled disposable oxygen humidifier units. Ten percent of the reusable bottles were contaminated by organisms associated with skin flora. CONCLUSIONS: Multipatient use and increased duration of use of disposable humidifiers result in cost savings without increasing patient risk. Restricted multipatient use of prefilled disposable oxygen humidifier bottles for a period of one month is a safe and cost-efficient practice.