Sterilization professionals in hospitals carry a huge a responsibility to patients, being the first in a series of steps taken to ensure each one's well-being while receiving medical care. If steps are not taken in a sterilization department to properly disinfect and sterilize reusable medical instruments, the risk of spreading serious infectious diseases becomes great. Persons in charge of sterilization procedures in the hospital setting should consider at all times the high risk of bioburdens and the spread of contagious diseases associated with reusable medical instruments.
Keeping Potential Micoorganisms Wet Until Sterilization Procedure
During the use of medical instruments in human tissue, as in surgery, keeping them wet is extremely important to prevent bioburdens becoming impossible to remove. When blood or other bodily fluids dry on surgical instruments, the microorganisms become harder to remove, thus making the sterilization process more challenging. Instruments should be sprayed as soon as possible after their final use on patients and kept wet during transport to the sterilization department. Bear in mind that the less contaminated instruments are handled, the greater chances are of reaching optimum sterilization levels.
Critical And Non-Critical Needs For Thorough Sterilization Procedures
Equipment and instruments labeled as high risk for spread of infectious disease possess a critical need for proper cleaning and disinfecting processes ahead of final sterilization procedures like those from an autoclave. Microorganisms and bacterial spores can remain on these kinds of instruments, especially on instruments with tiny hiding places. For example, if you miss a tiny piece of tissue hiding in the grooves of a pair of hemostats, it could withstand the high heat and steam sterilization in autoclaves and remain contaminated after being reintroduced into a sterile field. The piece of hidden dried tissue is considered a bioburden. Other instruments considered to have a critical need for sterilization are urinary and heart catheters and needles. In most cases, equipment and instruments considered critical are purchased new and sterile, coming with a one-time use requirement, like implants used in joint replacement.
Some instruments and medical equipment have non-critical needs for sterilization. Instruments and equipment that only come into contact with skin and not with mucous membranes or tissue like that in surgery are considered having non-critical needs for sterilization. For example, if you collect a pair of crutches used by a former patient for another patient to use, the crutches would require minimal sterilization attention. You can simply wipe down a pair of crutches with a disinfectant like chlorine bleach or other hospital approved disinfectants.
Keeping down the transmission of contagious diseases in a hospital setting is the primary responsibility of the sterilization department. Extensive training of new employees is an essential aspect of maintaining the greatest level of sterility for equipment and instruments in a hospital.