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Archive December 2020 XXI, No. 12

Make Instrument Precleaning a Priority

Point-of-use care improves surgical efficiencies, staff collaboration and patient care.

William DeLuca

William DeLuca, CRCST, CHL, CIS


William DeLuca
HARD WORK OR staff needs to understand how long it takes reprocessing techs to turn around instrument trays, and that the job should not be rushed.

The buck stops with sterile processing techs, who are ultimately the ones responsible for returning complete instrument sets to ORs on time and properly sterilized. With increasing caseloads, more instrumentation needed for complex procedures and a constant emphasis on maintaining overall efficiencies, the job has never been harder.

Surgical teams can help out their colleagues by wiping down dirty instruments with sterile water or treating them with an enzymatic spray to prevent blood, fat or tissue from developing into a layer of bioburden that's difficult to remove. Industry guidelines clearly state that immediate point-of-use precleaning is a critical first step in helping to prevent bacterial film from forming on instrument surfaces.

Precleaning makes instrument decontamination easier, allowing reprocessing techs to turn around trays faster and send them back to ORs in a timely fashion. When pre-cleaning takes place in the OR, instruments arrive with less bioburden, making the decontamination process easier and faster. The risk of sending a potentially dirty tray back to the OR decreases dramatically, thus lowering a patient's risk of developing a surgical site infection. Pre-cleaning really makes for better —and safer —patient care.

The proper cleaning of instruments keeps patients safe from infection and helps to reduce the cost of instrument upkeep. If your reprocessing techs consistently perform a lackluster job cleaning and sterilizing instruments, surfaces will become stained —which can lead to pitting and rust —and the tools will eventually break. The cost to replace instruments varies, but can range from $20 to as high as $1,800. Unfortunately, the instruments that are harder to clean tend to be more expensive.

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