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How Medical Equipment is Sterilized – A Simple Overview

Ever wondered how medical equipment is sterilized? Ever wondered what the procedure for medical device cleaning and sterilization was? Well, here is a basic overview of medical instrument sterilization and cleaning. Mind you, different hospitals and clinics may have different or more specific approaches. However, this is a basic overview.

Frequent Cleaning

Whenever a medical instrument is used, it is constantly cleaned after every use. This ensures that blood or other infectious material or bacteria do not accumulate on the instrument. If that were to happen, it becomes even more difficult to remove the stains.

Thorough Cleaning with Steam

Even though medical equipment is wiped down after every use, medical device cleaning via steam is crucial for complete instrument sterilization. In most cases, sterilization using steam is a vital process that most hospitals employ to safeguard patient safety.

Instrument sterilization using steam leaves no harmful chemical residues and all microbes are destroyed.

Thorough Drying

After thorough cleaning, medical equipment is thoroughly dried. This is an important process for complete instrument sterilization. Proper medical device cleaning requires that equipment should be thoroughly washed and dried before it is put into an autoclave. Many hospitals use the process of sterilization via dry heat to dry medical instruments.

Putting Equipment in an Autoclave

Once equipment has been properly washed and dried, it is then put into an autoclave. It is here that more heat, steam and high pressure is used to truly ensure proper instrument sterilization. Each instrument is placed approximately 1 inch away from each other and the machine is closed and the sterilization is allowed to continue for the validated cycle.

Maintain a Log

Once instrument sterilization has been achieved, it is vital that a medical device cleaning and sterilization log is maintained. Documentation is critical for compliance of the necessary steps required to achieve patient safety.

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Medical Device Cleaning – A Guide for Patients

Normally, our doctors know practically everything there is to know about the field of medicine. However, it is just as crucial for us, as patients, to also be aware of many medical practices. One such practice is medical device cleaning. Here is a closer look at why it is important and a few ways in which it is carried out.

Why is Sterilization even Necessary?

One of the biggest questions asked is why medical sterilization is important. If hot water is supposed to clean most of the bacteria, why are fancy machines such as an autoclave used for sterilization? The simple answer is that hot water alone does not remove or sterilize everything.

Many chemicals are used to sterilize medical equipment. This is because some bacteria are only destroyed by a certain chemical, level of heat, pH range, etc. The hospital cleaning staff usually uses bleach, detergents and various machines to sterilize equipment.

Sterilizing by using an Autoclave

An autoclave is a machine that uses very high heat, pressure and jets of steam to ensure thorough medical sterilization. The best thing about an autoclave is that complete medical device cleaning can be achieved in as little as 2 minutes, depending on the size and efficiency of the autoclave.

Sterilization by Dry Heat

As the name implies, dry heat is used to sterilize equipment. Initially, the medical equipment that needs to be sterilized is washed and dried completely. Usually, a high heat mechanical convection oven is used for dry heat medical sterilization. Blasts of dry heat are blown over medical equipment. Any bacteria still on the medical equipment are destroyed because the high temperature of the dry heat coagulates their blood proteins.

Sterilization by Chemicals

When it comes to medical device cleaning, many chemicals are used to clean the devices and remove any traces of bacteria. For example, bleach is a common chemical used to remove bacteria from medical equipment.

Medical device cleaning is taken very seriously in the medical field. Whether it is your surgeon, dentist or doctor, they will always ensure that all of their equipment is properly sterilized before they are used. This is because they know the complications of incomplete medical sterilization. In fact, they are required by law to sterilize their equipment after each use. This is one reason why autoclaves are highly popular in almost every hospital or clinic, big or small.

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