4 Key Aspects Healthcare Professionals Need To Know About Medical Device Sterilization

by: dewi susanti

To avoid possible cross-infection of patients through contaminated equipment, several medical device sterilization methods have been put in place to ensure that each instrument used in invasive medical procedures is germ-free.

Sterilization using autoclaves is among the most common methods used in health care facilities. Sterilization by autoclave is a preferred method because it works with steam, dry heat or gas, which is capable of destroying all disease causing organisms compared to other methods.

Medical Device Sterilization

However, there are 4 key aspects that all healthcare professionals need to take note of in the process of medical device sterilization:

1. Sterilization Is Key To The Safety Of Patients

Clinicians performing invasive and non-invasive procedures know that medical device sterilization is a vital practice in healthcare facilities.

Disinfection and sterilization of healthcare facilities are crucial aspects in avoiding cross infection from one patient to another, which is likely to happen through use of contaminated equipment.

This is especially so since millions of surgical operations are done every year, which includes millions of gastrointestinal endoscopes.

Without proper sterilization of the medical devices, pathogenic microbes can easily move from one patient to another, leading to infection.

2. Sterilization Protects Healthcare Professionals

Lack of sterilization poses a big risk not only to patients, but also users of medical-devices. For example, unsterilized bronchoscopes can easily lead to person-to-person transmission of mycobacterium Tuberculosis.

Although it is advisable for healthcare facilities to have different methods of disinfection and sterilization, autoclaves remain the best method of sterilizing medical devices because it can be used in variable forms.

3. Only Use The Appropriate Sterilization Methods

Equipment that cannot be sterilized using steam can be disinfected using gas or dry heat. Sterilization is often achieved by heat under pressure, dry heat or by chemical reaction to eliminate any disease causing organisms, which can cause infection.

Although a medical facility may have in place various methods of medical device sterilization, the appropriate method must be used for different types of equipment.

4. The Correct Steps Must Be Followed

It is important to observe some steps in order to achieve effective disinfection and sterilization. Here are a few examples:

  • Thorough cleaning is necessary before sterilization: As the first step towards effective sterilization, thorough cleaning will ensure that the devices are free of substances that might harbor pathogenic microbes and prevent them from getting into contact with the sterilant. Such substances may include oils, soils or other forms of dirt.
  • Sterilized medical devices should be packaged properly according to industry standards to ensure that they are clearly identifiable up to the time of use.
  • Sterilized medical equipment must be labeled with appropriate dates and stored in a safe place to minimize dust, humidity or handling.
  • Sterilized medical devices should be transported with care to avoid breakages or mishandling during transportation.
  • Sterilization methods have to follow the health industry regulations and the specifications set up by the local, state and federal authorities.

In the end, healthcare practitioners should realize that understanding these key aspects can help to improve disinfection and sterilization processes in their facilities, thereby reducing the risk of patient and user infection through contaminated medical devices.

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