MYTH: High quality packaging and high end sterilizers result in better sterilization.

FACT: Every step followed during preparation / reprocessing that can be validated as per standard operating protocols with reproducibility leads to highest probability of sterilization close to one probable failure out of ten million items sterilized.

In -house sterilization of patient-care supplies is a very important responsibility entrusted on Central Sterile Supply professionals. This subject is not as easy as it sounds .Forsome it may be as simple as putting material in sterilizer and removing it to issue after sterilization .At the most checkingthe colour change of indicator and expiry date before issuing it to the user. Whereas  if a professional working in this field has to describe his job it will begin with the objective of achieving sterility assurance level of 10-6 that means there is a probability of only one out of ten million items subjected to the process of sterilization , that might remain unsterile.

Let’s make  this term easier to understand by saying that sterility is an absolute term. That is item can either be sterile or non-sterile . Even if just one contaminant in the form of single micro organism has got left or remained unkilled it will have chances of growing , multiplying and leading to infection .

This is only to explain the importance of this job and intensity of seriousness ,Therefore it is mandatory to set stringentprotocols and process controls that can be flawlessly validated and train the personnel to perform these tasks diligently under needed supervision .Frequent audits need to be carried out to check adherence to standards and a close loop system has to be established in order to leave no room for non-compliance.

Having achieved Sterility ,the next important responsibility that arises is that of its maintenance till the sterile material is used for its intended purpose. For this packaging material, packing and sealing method ,drying post sterilization, storage,transportation to end point user, handling and aseptic presentation have to be taken care of. For this there has to be a standard operating procedure for every step and close monitoring for compliance. Thus this entire job involves the team of professionals who need to have different skill sets in order to carry out their roles perfectly. And my over three decades of experience in this field says that unless the leader takes moral responsibilities of the team, it is not possible tohave accountability and dedication towards and results in terms of safe and quality patient care in the form of ideal outcomes.

Author: Mrs. Gauri Bhatia
Mentor – Safe Sterile Club
IAHCSMM certified Central Service Expert from Purdue University, Pennsylvania.
Hospital Infection prevention practitioner

Post graduate in Microbiology
Over three decades experience of hospital administration with passion in Operations and Quality.
Advisor –  Hospital Sterile Services Association
Life member – Hospital Infection Society (Mumbai Forum)




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