The prevention and reduction of healthcare-associated infection (HAI) is a top priority in hospitals, surgery centers, and physician’s offices today. Increased vigilance toward instrument reprocessing procedures and improved personnel efficiency enhances both patient outcomes and lowers costs.
This calls to attention the “human factors” involved in cleaning and sterilizing of surgical instruments. It has also created the necessity for well trained and competent staff in the reprocessing areas, to reassess and improve upon current best practices.
Sterile processing procedures that need to be reevaluated immediately include:
- Start Reprocessing at the Point of Use: It’s time to get serious about improving the care and handling of contaminated surgical instruments at the source. Point of use processing prevents cross contamination and prolongs the life of reusable surgical instruments and equipment.
- Reviewing Manufacturer’s Care & Cleaning Instructions: Due to material composition or instrument design, the device may require different cleaning chemicals, preparation procedures, and/or sterilization. It is imperative to patient safety that this information is obtained from the manufacturer and that these instructions for cleaning and sterilization are followed.
- Retire Old Instruments: Begin to retire and replace old instruments or instruments with inadequate cleaning instructions with new instruments, which exceed in quality of material and design.
- Replace Reusable Instruments with Disposables When Appropriate: Replace instruments that are deemed “complex” or that are “difficult to reprocess”, with sterile disposable versions where possible.
The primary objective in healthcare facilities is to protect patients and medical practitioners from risk of infection and to ensure successful patient outcomes. Reassessing and advancing "best practices" will reduce the incidence of surgical site infections (SSI) and protect those staff members who work with soiled surgical instruments. The expectations for safe care and handling have been heightened and implementing a few new procedures quarterly will put your facility's HAI rate on the decline.