Going to Pieces Over a Disagreement Among Departments

Question: Im the new sterile processing manager at my facility. Administration, my staff, and I am having a conflict regarding the appropriate decontamination and sterialization of instrumentation that comes apart. Will you please send me your recommendations for the appropriate cleaning instructions? Or guide me to a link with the current standards on what must be taken apart before sterialization. --SS, Washington


Answer: Always follow the manufacturers instructions for use to include assembly/disassembly, cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization to include appropriate solutions. If the company tells you to follow the current standards of practice for their instrument (incidentally, every company is required to provide instructions for use ... make sure it is requested before purchase so you can avoid any processing issues up front) , you may find a detailed universal standard of practice outline from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) at www.aami.org  in the compiled work for sterilization or by contacting IAHCSMM at www.iahcsmm.org and purchasing a Central Service Technical Manual. I strongly suggest that you and your employees consider taking an approved CS program which IAHCSMM offers, as well as other CS organizations. Regarding your request, unless otherwise noted by the manufacturer or distributor, if the instrument or device is designed to come apart, it must be cleaned, disinfected, and sterilized while apart. I know it is inconvenient to staff, but remember healthcare does not have to be convenient but it must be safe; short cuts kill! If this is a device that needs extra time to process correctly and safely, make sure everyone in your departments, including surgeons and scheduling, are aware of this so appropriate safety measures can be built into the turnover time. You may want to consider an additional purchase; make sure everyone related to the device or instruments used are trained before they are put into service. Thank you for being a voice for your patients!  This requires the utmost sensitivity to the best practice, for the best proactive infection control program designed to protect patients from potential and actual risk or even death in our healthcare facilities. I applaud you for asking the question and caring enough to get the answer for your patients sake!