Sterilization of medical equipment is a must in the medical profession. Patients are bound to come in contact with the equipment and are quite exposed to it. If it is not sterilized properly, it opens the possibility of spreading diseases.
Any medical equipment should be cleaned properly before use, but sterilizing medical equipment is different. You need to know how to sterilize your equipment properly, and we hope this blog can help with that.
Why Should We Sterilize Medical Equipment?
Before we get into how we need to understand why. Here are some reasons why you should sterilize medical equipment before using it: –
1. Sterilizing an equipment cleans the dirt, germs, and bacteria acquired from an operation or any medical procedure. It properly cleans the residual blood, pus, and foreign particles from the equipment. This makes the equipment safer and can be used on the patients in the future without compromising their safety.
2. Sterilizing also maintains the quality of tools. Most medical tools are expensive and cannot be changed every couple of days. Sterilizing prevents corrosion of delicate and expensive tools.
3. It decreases the number of bacteria on the equipment which are not sterilized yet. It also removes breeding ground for the germs which are left alive.
How to Sterilize Medical Equipment?
1. Cleaning- Cleaning with water or with water and soap before sterilizing and equipment is always a must.
2. Disinfecting- This is the second step of the procedure. It uses chemicals to dissolve bacteria.
3. Sterilizing- Sterilizing can involve several methods and processes, which we will get into any minute now.
Methods of Sterilization
You need to choose the best sterilizing method for your equipment. You cannot use an insufficient and unsatisfactory method of sterilization as it will put people at risk. So here are a few methods for optimal sterilization:
1. Boiling water- Submerging equipment in boiling water is a trusted method. It works because heat with moisture gets inside a surface faster, as water is a better conductor of heat than air.
Moist heat destroys the microorganisms by something called “denaturing” of proteins. It just means that certain properties of the proteins are changed by immersion in boiling water.
2. Steam sterilization- It is a process followed by most sterilizing departments. It is very cheap and very safe and can clean numerous medical equipment. When someone opts for steam sterilization, a decontaminant is used to clean the exterior of the medical equipment. Then place the equipment in the steam sterilizer. Remember to leave a bit of space between the equipment that you’re sterilizing.
But you should check your instrument and make sure that it is not made with a heat-sensitive material.
3. Dry heat- If your instrument is not suited for steam sterilization or can get damaged by that procedure, another method available is dry heat sterilization. It is a slow technique but is strong and needs a high temperature to work. The temperature used in dry heat is around 340°F to kill bacteria.
4. Chemicals- you can also use chemicals to sterilize your equipment. Some commonly used chemicals are –
- Ethylene oxide
- Hydrogen peroxide
These chemicals are really strong and harsh and can kill a variety of chemicals and bacteria. You can take your equipment and submerge it into the chemical for a limited amount of time. Then pull it out and wash it off, allowing it to dry. Be careful around these chemicals as these are really harmful to humans.
5. VHP- It is a Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide sterilizer. It removes humidity from an enclosed area and injects VHP in that enclosure rapidly to sterilize the equipment. The vapour kills all the bacteria and sterilizes the equipment.
I hope this blog helps anyone looking for how to sterilize their medical equipment. Proper sterilization not only helps save lives but also increases the lifespan of the tools that one is using. So, sterilize your equipment, and protect people from unwanted diseases and infections!