Ice Machines and Health Care Safety

Health Care Ice

Ice machines are frequently used in health facilities. They can be found typically in emergency departments, food services and cafeterias, physiotherapy, operating rooms, maternity units, and post-op care units. Especially in health care facilities, it is important to handle ice properly in order to avoid contamination and infection.

Ice machines and ice storage can be contaminated by several sources :

  • Hands of caretakers/staff
  • Improper storage of ice
  • Poor cleaning of ice machine/storage
  • Poor cleaning of ice scoop
  • Improper ice handling

An important thing to remember is that ice that is intended for human consumption should be separate from ice intended for first aid and/or storage of medication/solutions or other medical procedures such as clinical specimen transportation.


Contaminated ice when consumed may result in adverse effects in patients. When infected, patients could be at risk of the following :

  • colonization of microorganisms
  • bloodstream infections
  • respiratory infections
  • gastrointestinal infections
  • surgical site and skin infections
  • contamination of clinical specimen and medical solutions


Regular cleaning schedules should be established and cleaning/maintenance records should be documented.

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