Define the terms antiseptic and disinfectant. Briefly describe the advantages and disadvantages of alcohol, chlorhexidine, glutaraldehyde and povidone iodine.

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College Answer

It was expected candidates could define and distinguish between these terms with a specific
comment that disinfectants are applied to inanimate objects and antiseptics can be applied to
living tissue. The advantages and disadvantages could be addressed either tabulated or
discussed in point form, either was acceptable.
It was expected answers would include a comment on each agent and specifically address
areas such as general spectrum of activity, speed of onset ( agents that need to dry to be
effective versus those with more rapid onset), duration of effect ( residual activity),
limitations of use and potential hazards. Marks were awarded for identifying Glutaraldehyde
as a disinfectant (as opposed to the other antiseptic agents) and its use for cleaning equipment
such as endoscopes with the precautions required for potential toxicity.
Additional credit was given for discussion of relevant facts such as the proven benefit for
chlorhexidine skin preparation for central venous line insertion. Candidates are referred to
several of the recommended texts which cover this area well.
Syllabus M2 2f
References: Katzung 10th edition 821-