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Arming the First Line of Defense

Mon, 09/10/2007 - 5:20am

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Getinge 400/500 HC Series Steam Sterilizers deliver a combination of sterility assurance, cycle flexibility and advanced operator control.
While often relegated to the basement and occasionally forgotten about altogether, the Sterile Processing Department (SPD) is actually a vital cog in the machinery that keeps a healthcare facility effectively and efficiently running. Naturally, the primary role of the SPD (or Sterile Supply or Central Supply as it is referred to in some facilities) is to clean used surgical instruments and other medical devices, sterilize them and get them ready to be used again. This simplified description, though, only scratches the surface of important work that is being done behind the scenes.

More than just a mere laundry for soiled instruments, the Sterile Processing Department represents the first line of defense in a hospital’s fight against infection, faulty equipment and inventory loss. Sterile Processing technicians not only clean and sterilize the instruments, they are also responsible for inspecting them to ensure they are in proper working order and tracking them to see that they are processed, packed and deliver to exactly where they need to be to keep the ORs running without costly downtime.

As such, it is important to keep the facility’s first line of defense well armed with sufficient tools to do their job correctly. Fortunately, current instrument decontamination, sterilization and tracking equipment is proving to be extremely effective and intuitive to use. Here is a look at just some of the products and services that can help SPDs keep their facilities running safely and efficiently.

Steri-Vac Sterilization Systems from 3M have provided safe and reliable sterilization for over 40 years.
Getinge USA, Inc. (Rochester, NY) is a world leader in infection control and sterilization equipment. They offer an extensive line of disinfection and sterilization equipment to meet the needs of any SPD, regardless of its size. They offer compact washer/disinfectors for departments where space is at a premium or for point-of-use applications, as well as the Getinge 8666 Washer/Disinfector for much larger loads. The 8666 Washer/Disinfector is highly productive and incorporates an intuitive operator control panel. Its large racks enable it to accommodate whole orthopedic sets, sterilization containers and large instrument. The 8666 Washer/Disinfectors can also be equipped with Getinge's Air Glide Shuttle System (AGS) to conserve both space and time. The automated AGS provides single-point loading and unloading of up to eight 8666 units and reduces the need for handling and lifting.

Getinge also offers a full line of high-quality, automated steam sterilizers in a variety of sizes to accommodate virtually any space and volume requirement. This line of steam sterilizers includes Getinge's new 633HC steam sterilizer, which offers up to 21 easily accessed cycles and is ideal for wrapped and unwrapped, porous and nonporous hard goods, gowns or towel packs and liquids in self-venting or unsealed containers.

In addition to its impressive line of sterilization and disinfection equipment, Getinge USA also offers a highly advanced instrument tracking system that can help the SPD track and manage instruments and other capital equipment throughout the facility. The Getinge T-DOC™ system uses bar code technology that allows users to collect, organize, analyze and archive sterile processing and mobile equipment data and keep track of each piece of equipment at any given place or time.

Cardinal’s IMPRESS instrument management system makes it easy to track instruments or sets anywhere in the work cycle in real time.
Advanced Sterilization Product (Irvine, CA), a Division of Ethicon, Inc., manufactures and markets the world-renowned STERRAD Sterilization Systems to accommodate virtually all low-temperature sterilization needs. These sterilization systems utilize the company's proprietary gas plasma technology to sterilize instruments and medical equipment while eliminating the potential risks that peracetic acid, steam and ethylene oxide gas (EtO) sterilization can pose to delicate and heat-sensitive instruments. The STERRAD Sterilization Systems are available in a variety of sizes and models and with a broad range of supplies and system accessories.

In addition to the STERRAD systems, ASP also offers an innovative system that effectively automates endoscope cleaning. The EvoTech™ Endoscope Cleaner and Reprocessor (ECR) eliminates the labor-intensive manual cleaning of endoscopes. This system incorporated a unique technology that helps ensure compliance and cleaning consistency while improving safety for both the staff and patients. As an added bonus, the EvoTech ECR automatically detects leaks, eliminating the inconsistencies of manual inspection.

The Steri-Vac™ Sterilization Systems from 3M Health Care have been available for more than 40 years and utilize proven sterilization processes that are effective for sterilization of temperature and moisture-sensitive medical devices. The Steri-Vac Systems are dual-cycle, 100 percent ethylene oxide gas sterilizer/aerators that can be installed in a wall or placed free-standing in a the sterile processing environment. These reliable systems provide sterilization of complex devices, no lumen restrictions and boast an extensive history of safety.

STERIS Corporation provides a comprehensive line of sterilization and reprocessing products and technologies.
3M also offers an extensive line of sterility assurance products to help the SPD insure that individual loads and packs have reached optimal decontamination, as well as test and monitors that gauge the effectiveness of the sterilization equipment. The 3M Attest™ line of biological indicators consists of a wide variety of products to test the effectiveness of nearly ever kind of sterilization process. The 3M Comply™ product line offers an impressive array of chemical indicators, Bowie-Dicks test and exposure monitors to accommodate all sterile processing equipment and provide additional assurance and documentation of sterility.

Cardinal Health (Dublin, OH) offers a full line of detergent products designed to help the SPD staff both clean and protect valuable instruments. The detergents contain specialty-chelating agents that effectively tie up hard water minerals so they are not deposited onto instrumentation. This avoids staining and binding of instrumentation and allows for the compete removal of any hard water films which may harbor soils. These cleaning solutions optimize the performance and life expectancy of instruments resulting in cost savings, operational efficiency and patient safety.

Cardinal Health also offers the IMPRESS® instrument management system, which makes it easy to track instruments or sets anywhere in the work cycle in real time, from decontamination and assembly to sterilization, the OR and the patient. The system allows users to track single instruments, peel packs and sets with barcode technology and wireless scanning capability. This can help increase efficiency and minimize costly downtime.

STERIS Corporation (Mentor, OH) has long been a leader in providing equipment, services and solutions for sterile processing and surgical instrument sterilization. They provides a comprehensive line of sterilization and reprocessing products and technologies to protect valuable surgical instruments while enhancing both patient and personnel safety. STERIS's line of Amsco™ Steam Sterilizers is among the most extensive on the market, with a broad range of sizes and styles to meet practically any requirement in the sterile processing environment. They also offer cleaning and decontamination solutions for treating instruments prior to sterilization and an extensive array of biological indicators and other sterility assurance products.

The SterilTek Subsidiary of STERIS Corporation offers consultation and assessment services for the SPD.
Another valuable asset that STERIS provides for the SPD is through their Subsidiary, SterilTek. SterilTek provides consultation and assessment services to help SPDs achieve better results and greater efficiency. Among their offerings is the SterilTek Sterile Processing Assessment service, which reviews a facility's current processes and practices for surgical instrument reprocessing and allows them to make recommendations for process improvements in workflow, instrument management and a review of the facility’s policies for compliance to governing standards.

SterilTek also offers Capacity Planning Services that help identify and develop long-term plans for SPDs including equipment planning, space requirements, conceptual drawings and operational and financial goals, as well as Education and Training Services that can be customized to suit each facility’s individual education and training needs. Other SterilTek services include Reprocessing Consolidation and Process Improvement assessment.

With such a broad range of supplies and equipment to keep the Sterile Processing Department well trained, well armed and working efficiently, hospitals have a golden opportunity to start fighting infection and controlling costs at the most basic level.
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