What are the guidelines to sterilization in surgical trays?
Find The Right Sterilization Cycle
A process and cycle of sterilization is integral to preserving ready-to-operate, clean equipment on a perpetual basis. Though custom trays which come pre-packaged are one of the best options for the ensuring of proper sterilization, they can be more expensive; and sometimes a clinic may not be able to absorb the cost, or may have an environmental putsch. As a result, such clinics will usually result to a cyclical procedure of sterilizing those custom trays on the premises which may not be of the disposable variety. Before this cycle is implemented, it must be verified by a vetted agency.
Types of Sterilization
There are several popular types of sterilization procedure employed in the operating theatre.
- ETO (Ethylene Oxide)
- Low-Temperature Sterilizers
Custom trays that have been ordered to specification have already been tested before they come to you, but if you are reusing the custom trays you have, you are going to need both chemical and biological indicators to be professionally applied at your installation by an agency designed for the purpose. This usually involves three different “empty” steam cycles wherein both indicators are used to test trays. All cycles used in sterilization receive separate testing.
Facilities of On-Site Sterilization
According to the authorities, there are three primary sections you should have your operating area divided into when it comes to sterilized equipment and custom trays.
- Sterilization and Storage
The Decontamination Area
This area should be near, but separate. Especially with the decontamination area, this separation should be acute; walls separating it from other areas. Airflow of the decontamination area should direct contaminants away from operating sectors. Recommendations are that air in a decontamination area be changed about every ten minutes, or six times an hour.
The Packaging Area
Next there’s the packaging area. Before a tray is repackaged, it must be properly cleaned with properly treated water that has been verified to ensure sterilized equipment. The same goes for the trays. There are a number of different machines available to help facilitate proper cleaning, and they should also be inspected. Custom trays that can be reused are useless if the machines cleaning them aren’t doing any good. Be sure to leave no stone unturned in this area. Investigators are keen to examine cleaning effectiveness to the microscopic level. They’ve found that even when an implement appears clean on the outside, it may very likely contain hidden microbial life liable to contaminate.
Those Who Clean
Personnel that are working in decontaminating reusable custom trays should also dress appropriately, wearing proper gloves, face masks, attire and goggles. This isn’t just a safety measure for patients that will come “under the knife”, as the expression goes, at a later date. Personnel involved may find they’re in contact with some contagions spoiling for a host. If they’re doing a good job, they will most certainly get some contaminated biological material on them. Without proper protection, it’s likely that an infection will occur.
Custom trays should be contained in rigid boxes according to AAMI guidelines, and those of other professionally-vetted organizations. Any equipment with moving parts should be disassembled during its storage. There are a number of choices in methods of sterility retention, also. They include
- Rigid Containers
- Peel-Open Pouches
- Roll Stock/Reels
- Sterilization Wraps
When using custom trays that require your own method of sterilized packing, be sure to include:
- Sterilant Penetration Allowance
- Contamination Protection During Handling
- Microbial Penetration Barriers
- Sterility Retention Post-Sterilization
Ideally, such solutions are easy to use as well. Following these guidelines is a great way to ensure sterility in your practice.