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In device sterilization, education is the first line of defense

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | June 16, 2020
Endoscopy Risk Management
From the May 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Cleaning varies from device to device or even between same devices but from different manufacturers. Devices need to be disassembled (if designed for disassembly), instructions for use need to be reviewed and the person doing the processing should have demonstrated competency regarding the task at hand.

“What is meant by that is that the technician should have been thoroughly trained on processing the device. The trainer should have had the student do a return demonstration on how to thoroughly clean the device. The trainer should have the instructions for use in front of them. The student should be able to follow the steps.”

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Additionally, Klacik says the person processing a device should have the basic level in certification, such as the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification offered by IAHCSMM. “If flexible endoscopes are all they’re doing, there is a certification for that as well — a Certified Endoscope Reprocessor (CER).”

The technician must know how to disassemble, clean, reassemble and process a device. They also need to know the best standard of practice for processing the device. From there, it’s required to monitor the disinfection or sterilization process and thoroughly review the physical monitors – the printout in front of the sterilizer. “If biologicals are used, the SP technicians need to know how to monitor those, and they need to know how to perform the incubations to get the final results in the chemical indicators. Again, the most important thing is to make sure the device is thoroughly cleaned,” says Klacik.

Failures often happen when employees are rushed and skip steps. That comes back to education, Klacik says. “If the technician processing the item doesn’t realize the item needs disassembling or brushing or even a certain size brush, that’s a problem. They also need to know about the detergent and the importance of changing the water after processing each surgical set. They need to have instrument air to help dry it, and the proper water quality. When I talk about following instructions for use, I’m talking about instructions for the medical device itself, the processing equipment and also the detergent manufacturer. If the detergent manufacturer states it is one ounce per gallon at a specific temperature range that needs to be followed precisely. Like in any profession, you often don’t know what you don’t know. Certification and continuing education help teach technicians about the essentials, so they know enough to ask or seek out more information when a question or concern arises.”

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