Prepping instruments before and after the sterilization process and their storage is as important as sterilization itself to ensure that they don't get damaged and get sterilized properly.
If you don’t take these considerations then you could end up damaging your instruments or contaminating them or yourself. So it is important that you educate yourself and follow your clinics process on how to protect your surgical instruments from beginning to end.
1) Safety First: Make sure you are wearing all appropriate protective gear per your clinic's recommendation before and during you handle and clean contaminated surgical instruments
2) Carefully Transport and Rinse: When a previous surgical procedure is over, you first move the instruments in a covered container to a pre designated cleaning area where you need to rinse off the surgical instruments.
2) PH7 (Neutral) Detergent Soak: The surgical instruments need to be submerged in a mixture of pH(7) detergent and water to help loosen any tiny particles stuck to the instruments.
3) Manual Cleaning is Important: The benefit of cleaning the instruments this way is the flexibility you have in reaching any area of the instrument that you want.
4) Micro Clean With Ultrasonic: After the manual cleaning, you’ll want to do an ultrasonic cleaning to destroy all of the visible soil and contaminants. Ultrasonic cleaning is also good for cleaning micro instruments with tiny areas or cracks in them that you cannot reach with your hands or fingers.
5) Use Automation to reduce time: If you are cleaning a lot of instruments at the same time then you should use an automatic cleaning machine as the final step in washing your instruments. These machines almost look like the washing machines you would find in a residential home, but they are different. They let you control temperature, speed and even add disinfectant to the instruments during the cleaning process.
6) Visual Inspection: The cleaning is now done so you need to inspect the instruments to make sure they look clean. You’ll also want to ensure none of the instruments were damaged during the various cleaning processes.
7) Packaging For Sterilization: Now that the cleaning is over with, you’ll want to package the instruments using sterilization wrap, sterilization pouches and sterilization trays. The pouches are good for smaller instruments that don’t weigh very much. The wrap is what you’ll put over an instrument tray if you are using one. Buying a high quality plastic sterilization tray or Sturdy Aluminum Sterilization Trays for storing expensive micro instruments is always a good choice.
8) Sterilize: You are ready for the sterilization. Choose between the gas, steam or chemical sterilization options and then act accordingly.
9) Check Again: After the sterilization is complete, check the instruments for quality assurance. You want to make sure the instruments didn’t get damaged or change colors during the sterilization process. If everything looks good then you are ready to store the instruments.
10) Storage: Repackage the sterilized instruments using one of the methods from Step 7 in order to prevent them from being exposed to contaminants. Only take them out when you are ready to perform a surgical procedure on someone.
Caution: This article is for guidance only. Please follow your clinic, hospital or institutions sterilization protocols and process to clean and sterilize surgical instruments.