The following article is written by Matt Smith, marketing analyst for Healthmark Industries Co.
Conducting weekly tests to ensure your instrument washer is functioning properly has become increasingly important over the years. New guidelines from AORN (Recommended Practices for Cleaning and Care of Surgical Instruments and Powered Equipment, Section XXII.a) and AAMI (Comprehensive Guide to Steam Sterilization and Sterility Assurance in Health Care Facilities, ST79:2010) call for weekly testing (preferably daily, according to AAMI) of the automated instrument washer.
Testing cleaning efficacy is one of the most important steps to the surgical instrument sterilization process since instruments cannot be effectively sterilized unless all surfaces are properly cleaned.
Here are some simple steps to follow when using a suitable challenge device to test your surgical instrument washer:
- Empty previous cycle.
- Secure one test per level in the center of a tray.
- Compare the test to the interpretation guide.
- Record results on log sheet.
- If less than optimal results are obtained immediately report results.
Some other factors such as improper water temperature, incorrect cleaning solution (concentration, etc.), exposure time and proper spray action, to list a few, can also affect the quality of cleaning. There are water quality and temperature tests designed to monitor these key parameters of cleaning.
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