Fighting off bacteria in medical facilities

Proper handling and cleaning of surgical instruments during surgery helps to prevent infections.

From doctor's offices to operating rooms, it's important that all health care facilities maintain cleanliness and sanitation. For this reason, there are a number of disinfection and sterilization guidelines in place for clinicians to follow. It is of utmost importance that all surgical instruments be free of pathogenic microbes, which could cause infection following an operation.1

Cleaning
During surgery, a doctor may be required to clean debris out of the wound. It is important that a high-level disinfectant is used during these procedures. Although some cleaning can be done manually, fragile instruments are sometimes required to get the job done.2 In these instances, there can be no contamination to the tools used. This is where cleaners, disinfectants and other supplies come in handy. In order to make sure that health care facilities are taking the proper precautions, verification tests are completed. However, there is no routine recommendation or requirement for such measures, which is why it's so important for clinicians to take the necessary precautionary measures on a regular basis.

Sterilization
There are a number of different types of disinfectants that are used for sterilization during medical procedures. A majority are made from chemicals; however, other varieties exist as well. These miscellaneous inactivating agents include metals, ultraviolet radiation, pasteurization, flushing and washing.3 Perhaps the most commonly used method of sterilization involves the use of alcohol, which is made from a combination of ethyl and isopropyl alcohols. In order to be used, the solution must be diluted to less than 50 percent concentration based on regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Best practices
Aside from cleaning and sterilization of surgical instruments, medical professionals should be conducting other best practices to avoid infection. this includes handling sharp objects, such as surgical knives, appropriately.4 Some basic safety measures include:

  • handling fragile objects with care
  • disposing of sharp objects in puncture-resistant containers
  • discarding any equipment that has been broken or damaged

In order to fulfill all of these requirements, health care facilities must have trained staff who are following written procedures and policies that are clearly laid out. To ensure these are enacted appropriately, quality monitoring should be enlisted to track equipment failures and observe usage. Additionally, equipment should be purchased from a reliable manufacturer for the best quality tools.

Medex Supply is one such medical supply store that provides health care professionals with a great variety of medical supplies. These include everything from infection control supplies to surgical instruments to wound care necessities to help clinicians provide quality care when paired with proper sanitation guidelines.

1 National Institutes of Health, "Disinfection and sterilization in health care facilities: what clinicians need to know" September 1, 2004
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Guideline for disinfection and sterilization in health care facilities, 2008: Cleaning" December 29, 2009
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Guideline for disinfection and sterilization in health care facilities, 2008: Disinfection" December 29, 2009
4 Public Health Ontario, "Best practices for cleaning, disinfection and sterilization of medical equipment/devices" May 2013

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