The Essentials of Sterility Assurance for the Infection Preventionist
It is critical that infection preventionists understand the principles and practices related to sterility assurance so that they may assist their institutions' sterile processing managers in ensuring that medical instruments and devices are properly reprocessed and do not contribute to the transmission of disease-causing pathogens. This report summarizes the essentials of sterility assurance for the infection preventionist.
The delivery of sterile products for use in patient care depends not only on the effectiveness of the sterilization process but also on the unit design, decontamination, disassembling and packaging of the device, loading the sterilizer, monitoring, sterilant quality and quantity, and the appropriateness of the cycle for the load contents, and other aspects of device reprocessing. The aim of central processing is the orderly processing of medical and surgical instruments to protect patients from infections while minimizing risks to staff and preserving the value of the items being reprocessed. As the CDC (2008) explains, "Ensuring consistency of sterilization practices requires a comprehensive program that ensures operator competence and proper methods of cleaning and wrapping instruments, loading the sterilizer, operating the sterilizer, and monitoring of the entire process. Furthermore, care must be consistent from an infection prevention standpoint in all patient-care settings, such as hospital and outpatient facilities."
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