News and Notices

Central Alerting System (CAS) alert - use of portable fans in clinical areas

Use of portable fans in clinical areas

Following a national Central Alerting System (CAS) alert all blade-less portable (Dyson type) fans were found to naturally accumulate dust and debris in the body of the fan providing a reservoir for micro-organisms. Although there is currently no evidence that conventional bladed fans disperse micro-organisms in the same way, NHS Improvement say as a precautionary measure they are being considered equally implicated and consequently, their use within clinical areas needs to be risk assessed.

  • Fans may be required occasionally where the environmental conditions:
    • Are unacceptably hot for the clinician to safely work.
    • Pose a threat to the patient’s wellbeing during treatment e.g. excessive heat.
    • Lead to a medical emergency e.g. where a patient feels faint.
  • Due to the links with healthcare associated infection bladeless (Dyson type) fans cannot be utilised within clinical areas. However existing bladeless fans may be utilised in non-clinical areas only.
  • Only fans that have a cage that can be unclipped to enable cleaning of the blades may be used. Fans that have a cage that is secured by screws should be removed from service and replaced by fans that can be unclipped.
  • Fans must only be used for specific conditions and not be left out in between clinics.
  • Fans must not be positioned to blow air directly over the working area.
  • The individual responsible for the work area must assess the use of fans within their work area against the DCHS generic risk assessment for the use and cleaning of fans. The individual must ensure that the risk assessment is appropriate for their work area, adding any additional information as required. The risk assessment should then be checked and amended as necessary each time cleaning of fans takes place when they are in use.
  • In inpatient areas a risk assessment will also need to be completed with a view to continued use of fans on patients during outbreaks of infections, for e.g. reducing their temperature and managing their comfort.

Cleaning of portable fans

All fans should be on regular cleaning schedules with frequency depending on clinical area.

  • In inpatient areas fans should be allocated to individual patients as required and cleaned at least weekly or before if visibly dirty. They should then be cleaned when the patient is discharged or transferred and this should be documented within the relevant section of the Bed Space Environment Cleaning Transfer/Discharge Checklist.
  • In corridors and other non-clinical areas fans should be unplugged weekly unless visibly dirty and the outer casing cleaned with detergent (Hospec) & water and dried. The outer cage should be unclipped and the blades cleaned with Clinell Universal wipes. This should be recorded on the relevant cleaning schedule.
  • In clinic settings fans should be wiped clean using Clinell Universal Wipes prior to and following each clinic unless visibly dirty, in which case they should be cleaned using the above procedure. This should be recorded on the relevant cleaning schedule.
  • Fans should be cleaned with detergent (Hospec) & water and dried prior to labelling and storing in a clear plastic bag out of the clinical area between use.


Posted on behalf of the Infection Prevention and Control Team