entrance of bacteria in 100 percent of
the containers tested.
What do the findings mean
for OR staff?
Earlier this year, Halyard Health,
a global medical technology
company focused on preventing
infection, eliminating pain, and speedy
recovery, released a consensus
statement on the issue. Authored by
six industry leaders in central services
and infection prevention, the statement implored health professionals
and regulators to establish best
practices for the use of rigid sterilization containers.
It also offered these tips for
Use sterilization wraps: Using
older containers? It’s time to switch.
“The science clearly demonstrates
that sterilization wrapped trays are
significantly more effective at maintaining sterility of their contents,” the
statement authors note.
Conduct tests of rigid sterilization containers: Infection preventionists should ensure that lids fit
tightly on the base of the sterilization
container and that there are no dents
or cracks on the container.
Find the hospital’s weak spots:
Infection preventionists should research
which departments in the hospital have
higher rates of infection and consider
replacing containers with wraps.
Improve communication: Increase
collaboration between the Sterile
Processing Department (SPD),
Central Supply (CS) professionals,
surgeons, infection preventionists,
and other staff to ensure proper
handling of container protocols.
Keep hunting for other
causes of SSIs: Schedule
regular meetings with SPD and
CS staff to discuss other potential
causes for SSIs. Also, communicate
those results to surgeons whose
patients are at a higher risk for
The ARA study was the second of
its kind and shined a spotlight on an
often overlooked source of infections in the OR. What was particularly surprising about the results was
that even unused rigid sterilization
containers had high levels —
72 percent — of bacterial contam-
ination. The results also indicated
that rigid sterilization containers
can become less effective over time
because bacterial contamination is
more likely with each use.
Making the switch to sterilization
wraps offers a simple solution to
a complex issue and could save
numerous patients’ lives.
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