Archive October 2018 XIX, No. 10

The Shift From Disinfection to Sterilization

We overhauled our GI scope reprocessing process in pursuit of our ultimate goal: to eliminate high-level disinfection.

Jenni Gibbs

Jenni Gibbs


Altru Health System
SHIFT TO STERILIZATION The Altru Health System in Grand Forks, N.D., is the first U.S. facility to terminally sterilize GI scopes with a low-temperature sterilizer.

We’re on a mission to eliminate high-level disinfection. Anyone who has seen closeups of the crud, corrosion and contaminants left behind on a reprocessed scope knows that we need to shift from GI scope disinfection to terminal sterilization. If we here at the Altru Health System in Grand Forks, N.D., have any say in the matter, that shift will happen sooner than later. A lot sooner.

A few months ago, we became the first-ever facility to sterilize GI scopes. It was a big deal, for sure, not just for our central sterile department, but for every reprocessing room in every surgery center and hospital. A new low-temperature sterilizer from TSO3 made this possible. The Sterizone VP4 uses dual sterilants — vaporized hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and ozone (O3) — to achieve terminal sterilization of heat- and moisture-sensitive medical devices. In the same amount of time it takes to high-level disinfect, we can terminally sterilize multi-channeled flexible endoscopes (with a maximum of 4 channels) of up to 3.5 meters in length, such as video colonoscopes, duodenoscopes and gastroscopes. We’re starting off sterilizing duodenoscopes, the most challenging scope to reprocess (only my 5 highest-paid reprocessing techs can clean duodenoscopes). From there, we’ll sterilize gastroscopes and colonoscopes.

What’s more, the Sterizone VP4 can run mixed loads, which minimizes the time we spend sorting instruments and maximizes device turns. In the same cycle, we can process a mixed load of general instruments, single-channel flexible endoscopes, and single- or double-channel rigid endoscopes, with load weights of up to 75 lbs.

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