Archive September 2019 XX, No. 9

Infection Prevention: Pretreating Instruments at the Point of Use

How we got our surgical staff to spray dirty instruments in the OR.

Amber McGeehan

Amber McGeehan


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
SPRAY AWAY Tina Walker, RN, and surgical technologist Lisa Hatt of Heritage Valley Health System in Beaver, Pa., pretreat instruments in the OR before they send them out for reprocessing.

Has your OR staff lost its way when it comes to pretreating instruments at the point of use before sending them out for reprocessing? Have they never even known the way? I know the feeling, and you need to nip this problem in the bud ASAP. Maybe our story can help guide you to a solution.

I know, it's a struggle to make changes in many ORs. For some staff who've been working in the OR for decades, they might never have pretreated instruments. Our OR teams had performed the same instrument reprocessing routine, rarely pretreating instruments in the OR, and we'd never had problems with SSIs. So they thought, if it's not broke, why fix it? Well, you need to fix it because you're playing with fire with both auditors and patients. After all, there's a first time for everything — including SSIs.

The idea, of course, is that by pretreating instruments at point of use, you not only reduce the risk of SSIs, but perhaps more importantly, bioburden won't harden and make the jobs of your reprocessing techs more difficult and time-consuming. You know how hard it is to clean a bowl caked with mac-and-cheese residue you left in the sink overnight? Now you know how your sterile processing staff might feel. Getting the guck off right after your meal works wonders when you actually wash the dishes later on. Same goes for surgical instruments.

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