Sterilization and High-level Disinfection Guidelines: Should be Based on Current Evidence

Recently, physician societies have published their own guidelines for reprocessing instruments and equipment (e.g., gastroenterology and ophthalmology). These guidelines are very confusing and somewhat disconcerting to expert reprocessing professionals for the following reasons:   Those physician created guidelines did not go out for public comments, leaving no chance of input from reprocessing experts. Some recommendations […]

Point of Use Care for Surgical Instruments: A Hot Button for Surveyors

Care and handling of surgical instruments is a shared responsibility between the Operating Room (OR) and Sterile Processing (SP) personnel. Research has proven that preparation for decontamination must begin at the point of use (POU). However, many facilities are not following the guidelines. Surveyors from accreditation organizations such as The Joint Commission are citing facilities […]

Don’t Process What You Can’t Clean

It has been proven repeatedly that if an item is not properly cleaned it cannot be effectively reprocessed.  Healthcare professionals know, “If it isn’t clean it can’t be sterilized or high-level disinfected”.  The first and most important step in reprocessing reusable medical devices is thorough cleaning and rinsing. So how is cleaning defined? Let’s look […]

Wait! Should We Really Be Processing These? A Closer Look at Properly Processing Put-Ups

Any prudent sterile processing professional knows you must follow the manufacturers’ validated instructions for use (IFU) in order to verify that items can be effectively sterilized.  Manufacturers have very strict rules and regulations that they must follow in order to get approval and clearance to take their products to market. As a sterile processing consultant, […]

Sterilization or Disinfection? It’s time to Modernize the Spaulding Classification System!

In 1968, Dr. Earle Spaulding classified medical devices into three categories based on device usage and body contact.  What we currently know as the Spaulding system, classifies devices as critical (presenting a high risk), semi-critical and non-critical (presenting a low risk) depending on the infection risk involved. The system also classifies the appropriate level of […]

Newly Updated ANSI/AAMI ST79:2017 is now available

ANSI/AAMI ST79, The comprehensive guide to steam sterilization and sterility assurance in healthcare facilities is known in the sterile processing profession as the bible for reprocessing guidelines. There have been no updates or amendments since 2003, until now. This comprehensive update to ST79 has major revisions, that includes a user-friendly reorganization of content, ST79 is […]

Verification of Instrument Cleaning Processes

The old saying “If it is not clean it can’t be sterilized”, is extremely true.  Sterile Processing departments (SPD) routinely use physical, chemical and biological monitors to verify sterilization conditions are met. Nevertheless, these monitors do not monitor if the items were properly clean prior to being placed in a sterilizer. The U.S. Food and […]

Solving Wet Pack or Wet Load Issues

  One of the most frustrating and time-consuming issues in sterilization is troubleshooting wet packs or wet loads.  A sterilized package is considered a wet pack if moisture (dampness, droplets, or puddles of water) is left in or on a package after the proper cooling period.1  Moisture on or inside a package is an issue […]

Standards, Guidelines or Recommendations: Do We Really Need to Follow Them?

There are many published standards guidelines and recommendations related to reprocessing reusable medical devices. As evidence becomes available, these publications are often updated to reflect most current best practices. So, does that mean we must follow them? Let’s start by discussing what the Association for the Advancement of medical instrumentation (AAMI), the Association of periOperative […]

Accreditation Survey Site Visits for SPD: Are you Compliant?

The Joint Commission (TJC) or The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services survey site visits focuses on safety and quality of patient care throughout the healthcare facility.  Surveyors will more than likely want to review areas that process devices via high-level disinfection (HLD) or sterilization. Surveyors will want to see that facilities are conduction risk […]