Whether you’re working in a medical environment or not, it should come as no surprise to you that the sterilization of hospital equipment is vital for all parties involved, doctors and patients alike. This is basically what we call “standard duty of care”: hospital personnel are obligated to ensure that there are fail-safe precautions in place that help keep the health of patients unharmed. This means that doctors, nurses, and other staff must always strive to work for the security of those present in the medical facility’s environment.
This is a “battle” fought by all medical facilities around the world, where the “enemies” are known as HAIs (Health-Care Associated Infections). While the existence of hospitals serves the purpose of saving patients, contaminated hospital instruments and improper staff hygiene may in fact worsen their state.
The risks of improper hospital equipment sterilization
The sterilization of the different instruments in hospitals is essential for the security of patients, as failing to meet safety criteria can have increasingly drastic consequences, which are as follows:
1. The spread of infections
If at any time there are unidentified substances on hospital equipment and surgical instruments, it can easily heighten the risk of infection by exposing specific body parts to bacteria.
2. The spread of diseases
If hospital equipment sterilization isn’t done properly after being used for a different task, it makes it very easy for diseases to spread from one patient to another. Examples also include AIDS, HIV, hepatitis, and sadly much more as well.
3. Mortal danger
While it may sound dramatic, contaminated medical equipment due to lack of proper steam sterilization is nothing to be joked about. Serious infections can in some cases lead to the death of patients.
The sterilization of instruments in hospitals: how to get there
As part of hospital equipment, there are 3 main steps to prevent the spread of HAIs, which must be done in the following order: cleaning, disinfection, and the third and final step being steam sterilization. The reason behind the order of these steps, as that they are increasingly effective at killing germs, with autoclaves being one the strongest hospital sterilization equipment tools to fight the spread of infections.
The first step in sterilizing hospital equipment: cleaning
Cleaning surely isn’t a foreign term and means basically the same thing as it does in households or restaurants. This means removing all visible foreign materials - including dust and dirt – by cleaning hospital equipment by hand with soap or detergent. Water also must be free of most microorganisms, and chemical residues.
By cleaning hospital instruments, the main goal is to reduce the bioburden (initial contamination). This covers any kind of population of organisms that may leave their mark on materials, products, and even packages. Depending on how the equipment in question is used, cleaning may be enough to reduce the risk of said bioburden. However, like we mentioned, cleaning represents only the bare minimum in treating hazardous and non-hazardous hospital equipment. This means that in the majority of cases, cleaning is just the first step in the ensuing disinfection and steam sterilization of hospital instruments.
The second step in treating hazardous hospital materials: disinfection
Disinfection is the next stage in handling medical equipment. You may very well wonder what the difference is between this and sterilization (the third and final step listed below). While disinfection means killing all living microorganisms, destroying all bacterial spores is requires steam sterilization to be 100% done. The reason behind this is that these bacteria are very difficult to dispose of, as they exist in a sort of hibernation state, allowing them to withstand even the toughest of conditions. Their endurance isn’t the only thing to be noticed however, as some bacterial spores can be very dangerous, like tetanus or anthrax.
There are hospital disinfector machines that can handle the job when treating equipment that has come into contact with bodily fluids, but as you may expect it by now, most of the time the work isn’t done unless you use autoclave steam sterilizers.
The third and final step in handling hazardous medical equipment: autoclave sterilizers
Finally, after your hospital instruments have undergone the last two stages of decontamination, the most effective and radical process of germ elimination can begin. This is sterilization, which allows you to kill ALL hazardous microorganisms, without any exceptions. We aren’t the only recommending this: the WHO strongly advises all medical facilities to sterilize instruments that may have come in contact with fluids that originate from inside the body.
Before steam sterilization came into play, the main method for the third step was open-flaming, which interestingly enough can be compared to spit-roasting an animal over an open fire. Thankfully, modern times have allowed us to reach a whole new level of decontamination, which is not only more effective, but a lot more practical in hospitals in the form of autoclave steams sterilizers.
Autoclaves: the principle of sterilization of instruments in hospitals
Using autoclaves for steam sterilization has become the new standard for hospital equipment decontamination by far. This is why companies like Celitron make it their mission to provide medical facilities with cutting-edge hospital sterilization equipment. Our machines are highly effective, environmentally friendly (which also means they can function economically),and user-friendly as well.
So how do these autoclaves function? Think of a pressure cooker: modern steam sterilizers like ours run various cycles that can decontaminate all kinds of materials. Depending on the needs and size of your medical facility, you can choose from small tabletop machines, medium steam sterilizers, and large autoclaves. In any case, if you’re looking for the maximum possible safety of your patients and colleagues, your mission isn’t accomplished until you can go through with steam sterilization.
Why not check out Celitron’s choice of large autoclave sterilizers that are ideal for hazardous equipment treatment? We have solutions for all kinds of medical facilities, from labs to the biggest of hospitals!