Archive Infection Control 2013

7 Keys to Effective Decontamination

Steps you can take to avoid breaches in surgical instrument reprocessing.

Phenelle Segal

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC


effective decontamination PRE-TREAT Today's instruments have complex, movable parts that are difficult to disassemble and clean thoroughly. To prevent debris from drying on instruments, it's best to soak them right away.

The decontamination of instruments by removing organic material is critical in the process of disinfection and sterilization and, subsequently, preventing healthcare-associated infections. Effective sterilization cannot occur if debris is left on or inside instruments. Protein material is not penetrable by steam or gas. Staff who are unaware of the importance of pre-disinfection may wrongly assume that instruments headed for the sterilizer need not be decontaminated. Be sure to conduct reprocessing competencies for central processing department staff annually and as needed.

The purpose of decontamination is to remove all organic material, including blood, secretions and tissue that has collected on the surface, in the grooves and hinges of instruments before high-level disinfection and sterilization.

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