When using medical equipment, it’s essential to make sure that the item has been sterilized and is free of harmful pathogens. All items should be packaged in proper dangerous goods packaging before use, which lets health professionals know that the item is sterile. If the item has been used or is not packaged properly, sterilization is necessary. There are several ways to sterilize equipment, but the most popular methods include steam, dry heat, and chemical sterilization.
Steaming is a very popular way to sterilize equipment and is often done using a machine known as an autoclave. In many cases, it is the most cost-effective option and the safest. First, the item must be cleaned using a decontaminant. The item is then wrapped and placed inside the sterilizer, which penetrates every area of the item and eliminates bacteria.
Dry heat uses high temperatures to sterilize equipment, making it a strong sterilization method. However, dry heat takes longer to clean items and cannot be used with items that are sensitive to heat. The air used in this sterilization technique is over 300 degrees F, allowing it to kill microbes and bacteria.
In chemical sterilization, a solution is used to kill pathogens that have the potential to harm humans. Common chemicals include hydrogen peroxide, bleach, and ethylene oxide. Tools and equipment must be submerged for a specified time in order to make sure they are sterile and all pathogens have been eliminated. Once sterile, the equipment should be rinsed and dried.
By sterilizing equipment, you ensure that items are clean and free of bacteria that could be passed onto others. Steaming, applying dry heat, and chemically sterilizing are just three methods of sterilization there are many more that medical professionals use to keep items sterile.