Back to Sanitation
The terminology we use emphasizes slightly different concepts than in a medical office.
Decontamination: This is the least stringent cleaning. This refers to our process of washing instruments and equipment in our decontamination room. This must be followed by sterilization, if possible. Otherwise, it must be followed by disinfection.
Disinfection: The use of an appropriate chemical disinfectant to clean and disinfect a hard surface. This most frequently refers to counters and equipment, but might also refer to larger items that cannot be sterilized and must be sprayed down instead. This is described in more detail in Decontamination of OR.
Sterilization: We sterilize all instruments after every case, but we don't maintain instruments in a truly sterile state after sterilization. Instruments that have been sterilized are placed individually in sealed sterilization pouches to keep them clean and to indicate to all staff that they have been sterilized.
Sterilize instruments after each Surgical case as follows.
Dispose of sharps prior to moving instruments. Move instruments to decontamination room. Protect delicate instruments. Rinse instruments in cold water. Cold water is superior to hot water as a solvent for blood and other body fluids. Place in enzymatic solution to soak for 30 minutes. Slowly wash each individual instrument by hand with a brush and enzymatic detergent in tepid water. All debris must be completely removed. Rinse with distilled water. Inspect them for damage and proper function. Blot dry, then air dry. Move instruments from the decontamination room to the dirty side of the sterilization room.
Some items are too large to sterilize. After washing, spray these items down with disinfectant. Depending on the disinfectant, rinsing may then be required.
Some small instruments are frequently steam sterilized. Place unbagged instruments on the StatIm cassette, close lid, and insert. Make sure leveling bubble is inside circle. Run on unwrapped cycle. Remove when beeping indicates drying has started. Open cassette to let hot instruments air dry. Once completely dry, place into pouches and put away in drawers.
Larger instruments, tubing, etc are run through the EtO sterilizer. Instruments can be bagged before or after.