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Best Practices For Instrument Management

Wed, 08/17/2011 - 6:30am
Barbara Trattler, RN, MPA, CNOR, CNA, Director of Clinical Education, Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP)

“What are the top considerations surgical professionals should make to ensure instruments are well-organized, maintained and secured during all phases of storage, cleaning and use?”

August 17, 2011

Sterilization is key in preparing for any surgical procedure, and I recommend healthcare facilities utilize terminal sterilization ensuring that sterilized devices are ready for immediate or later use. Medical devices are sterilized in packaging that can be stored and transported. Surgical professionals also appreciate the benefits of terminal sterilization not only because it helps them to “start ahead of schedule and stay ahead,” but also because of the added benefits packaging provides, like helping ensure instruments are well-organized, maintained and secured during all phases of the process.

Sterilization is key in preparing for any surgical procedure, and I recommend healthcare facilities utilize terminal sterilization ensuring that sterilized devices are ready for immediate or later use.  Medical devices are sterilized in packaging that can be stored and transported. Surgical professionals also appreciate the benefits of terminal sterilization not only because it helps them to “start ahead of schedule and stay ahead,” but also because of the added benefits packaging provides, like helping ensure instruments are well-organized, maintained and secured during all phases of the process.

Two packaging options I recommend are instrument trays and containers. Although packaging is required for all terminal sterilization procedures, I encourage surgical professionals to explore the various terminal sterilization packaging options available to them. 

Some instrument trays allow you to sterilize an entire procedure set at once, maximizing throughout of devices.  Depending on the sterilization system used, trays may also allow for the processing of twice as many devices as is possible with other instrument processing methods.  Look for a tray that is comprised of a lightweight material and snug fitting lids for ease of handling and optimal storage for improved space efficiency. Lastly, I recommend using a tray with silicone mats and holders for protection of delicate instruments.

Closed containers are another effective packaging option that can provide added benefits throughout the instrument preparation cycle. Closed containers are an attractive option because they:

  • Protect devices for sterilization, transportation, storage and aseptic presentation of contents
  • Facilitate organization of instrument sets
  • Help reduce the volume and cost of waste at the end of a surgical case, because wrapping is not required
  • Similar to trays, devices for a single procedure can be packaged together for easy processing and efficient delivery

Finally, let’s not forget that the healthcare staff is critical to success.  As a best practice, I encourage the SPD and OR staff to effectively collaborate in ensuring that the facility is delivering the highest standard of care for their patients.

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