National Patient Safety Alert: ultrasound gel

Update on the safe use of ultrasound gel within healthcare settings
The National Patient Safety Alerting Committee (NPSAC) has issued a National Patient Safety Alert (PSA) about the safe use of ultrasound gel within healthcare settings. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has identified that a long-standing outbreak of B. cepacia is linked to a non-sterile ultrasound gel product that is in use across the UK and Ireland. As a result of these findings, the UKHSA has implemented new safety measures for the use of ultrasound gel in healthcare settings.

The new safety measures will be implemented in clinical practice by 31 January 2022. Separate measures are in place for sterile and non-sterile ultrasound gel. You can read the statement here.

Some members may currently use ultrasound gel for non-invasive procedures. Members should ensure that they read the PSA and implement the necessary changes by this date. The PSA advises that large containers of ultrasound gel intended for decanting should no longer be used in clinical practice. Only use non-refillable bottles or sachets. Additionally, the following infection control procedures should be followed:

  • Dispose of ultrasound gel one month after opening
  • Clean the whole bottle, including the tip, with a disinfectant wipe between uses
  • Ensure the tip/nozzle of the bottle does not come into contact with anything. If it does, clean immediately with a disinfectant wipe.
Invasive procedures require that you use a single-use container of sterile gel.