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Archive August 2020 XXI, No. 8

The Benefits of Point-of-Use Instrument Care

Bedside treatments improve workflow, patient care and the relationship between surgical teams and reprocessing techs.

Casey Czarnowski

Casey Czarnowski, BA, CRCST, CSPDT, CIS, CER

BIO

TRANSPORT WHEN WET
Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
TRANSPORT WHEN WET Spray or gel should be applied to surgical sets before they're taken to sterile processing so bioburden doesn't harden before decontamination begins.

Your OR staff is under enough pressure to achieve excellent outcomes and keep the surgical schedule on track during days packed with cases from early morning to late afternoon. On top of all that, they're expected to take good care of expensive new instruments used during procedures that grow increasingly complex each year. Adding point-of-use instrument care to their already lengthy list of clinical tasks will be as welcome as an add-on case.

The good news is that treating instruments at the bedside with a spray or gel to keep them moist until they reach central sterile can be done in minutes and actually increases overall efficiencies. It's also important to note that we're talking about instrument care, not cleaning. OR staff sometimes say it's not their job to clean instruments. Using the phrase "point-of-use care" is helpful because it takes "cleaning" out of the discussion — and it's more accurate.

Let's explore how properly caring for instruments in the OR creates a partnership between surgical teams and sterile processing techs, keeps your facility running smoothly, saves money by extending the life of instrument sets and ultimately reduces risks of surgical site infections.

Constant instrument care

Treating instruments in the OR immediately after they're used ensures the cleaning process in the sterile processing department is as easy and efficient as possible. A member of the surgical team should use a four-by-four-inch gauze pad to wipe soiled instruments with sterile water each time they're handed back by the surgeon. In addition to this being sound instrument care, it also helps the procedure run smoothly as surgeons appreciate being handed back a pair of non-bloody scissors the second they're needed. A point of emphasis: Saline should never be used to wipe down instruments. It degrades stainless steel over time and, like blood, can eat through the top passivation layer to cause pitting.

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