Sterile Processing Technology: Creating Safer Environment for Patients

HealthcareJanuary 08, 2014

Sterile processing technology is the front line of infection control. Med techs responsible for the sterilization of equipment and initiating proper cleansing protocols have a strong obligation to patients, doctors and the hospitals in which they work. Sterilization technologies are no longer limited to cleaning the linen and surgical equipment, but are advancing to environment control and air quality.

Air Sampling

Current air samples in hospital environments are usually conducted during idle times when there are not much personnel on hand. A five-year test was recently completed at a university in Basel, Switzerland, in which researchers tested air quality at different times throughout the day as well as different population levels throughout various areas in the hospital. Infection Control Today reported that the researchers responsible for the five-year project are noting that idle time, microbiological samples should be dissolved. They have proven that more mold spores are present in the air when more staff is present, and they have outlined new operating procedures and a testing schedule based on staff population.

Contact Precautions

Contact precautions, or CPs, are the limitations of contact with possible infectious patients. Medical specialists are divided over the need for patient contact versus the possible prevention of infection. Although, this may seem like simple practice, it is a practice that is often ignored. Hospitals are trying to get a 90 percent proficiency rate in getting their personnel to wear gloves, but many hospitals' percentages are much lower. Studies have shown that those that wear gloves regularly can reduce the spread of certain bacteria from 15 to 3 percent.

Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP)

The Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control Journal recently posted an article stating that improper compliance with ventilator-associated pneumonia, or VAP, prevention practices could be the cause for pneumonia among some of their patients. The exact numbers vary over the 77 countries studied, but it has been noted that better training of medical staff can reduce the chances of VAP. Sterile processing technology begins with something as simple as a med tech wearing gloves, as mandated; however, it does not stop there. Proper cleaning and use of equipment, and even the effects of the environment within the hospital are all part of the sterilization process. 

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