minimizes downtime due to unanticipated
repairs. When hospitals can step back and
consider how to maximize their capital
investments, they gain control of their costs
without sacrificing quality patient care.”
• Establishing a standard of practice helps
to consistently deliver the same level
of care to all patients. However, just as
important as establishing these instru-
ment sterilization SOPs, is updating
them as part of continuous improvement
programs. This allows for making adjust-
ments to compensate for new or emerging
safety, material compatibility, device vali-
dation or reprocessing time concerns.
As is the case with all things going into and
out of the OR, new technologies will also
play a role. In particular, Cole and Antonucci
point to developments focused on removing
the most challenging contaminants.
“Sonic irrigators provide a repeatable,
thorough process. Sonics break up the
bioburden and irrigation removes it from
difficult crevasses and joints, which must
SPS Medical’s Ruth Arbuckle offers the following six steps for health-
care facilities in helping to ensure proper instrument reprocessing and
minimize infection risks.
1. Transport contaminated instruments carefully to the instrument processing area to prevent exposure.
2. Cleaning and inspection should be performed as soon as possible in a
designated area and using appropriate PPE.
3. Package instruments following inspection, using FDA approved pouch-es, wrappers and/or rigid sterilization containers.
4. Sterilize by following the manufacturer's instructions for use (IFUs).
Load the sterilizer properly and confirm the cycle type and parameters
before the cycle begins.
5. Storage and delivery after sterilization begins with inspection of all packages for proper color change by the external chemical indicator. Sterile
packages should be stored in a clean, dry location and preferably closed.
6. Quality assurance is critical throughout the reprocessing process.
Sterility assurance should be verified using three types of indicators
(physical, chemical and biological). Using an appropriate mix of chemical and biological indicator products will allow users to confidently
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