Sterilization and Disinfection
Published: Aug 2, 2010
To prevent the spread of infection and disease, medical equipment must be cleaned, disinfected and sterilized before it can be used again. Sterilization will cause the equipment to be free from all sorts of bacteria and viruses. Equipment such as gloves and needles are disposable but it is not financially feasible to dispose of more expensive medical equipment between uses. This is where sterilization comes in.
In this article, we will walk you through a step by step procedure of sterilizing medical equipment.
10 Step Sterilization Process
- The first thing you should do is put on a pair of disposable gloves before handling medical equipment which has been used on patient.
- Any visible contaminants such as blood stains or visible organic matter should be cleaned using a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. This procedure will make the disinfection and sterilization process much easier.
- The contaminated equipment should be placed into an ultrasonic bath filled with disinfectant solution. The ultrasonic bath contains ultrasonic waves which are capable of removing small quantities of blood and other contaminants. After you close the lid on the bath, the ultrasonic waves will start scrubbing the equipment clean.
- The equipment should be removed from the ultrasonic machine after 15 minutes.
- Rinse the equipment with clean water and make sure that no disinfectant remains on the equipment. The disinfectant is not harmful but it causes discoloration to the equipment.
- Dry the equipment using paper towels.
- The equipment should be placed in a self sealing autoclave bag which is strong and pressurized for sterilization.
- Place the bagged equipment into the autoclave machine for approximately 15-20 minutes. Autoclave sterilization ensures that all remaining germs after disinfecting and cleaning the equipment are eliminated. An autoclave machine is a device which sterilizes equipment by subjecting them to high pressure steam at 121 degrees Celsius or more.
- Turn on the machine.
- Remove the equipment from the machine after the sterilization process is complete. Do not remove the equipment from the autoclave bag before usage because you risk the tools to airborne contaminants.
Please note that removal of tools from the autoclave machine before the cooling period is over can cause severe burns.
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