What a Sterile Processing Technician Does

You may be wondering what Sterile Processing is. It is also known as the CSSD or Central Sterile Services Department. It is located in hospital facilities. It is where they sterilize and clean all of the utensils and devices that doctors and other medical personnel use in procedures.

Important Aspect of the Hospital

If you have your Sterile Processing certification, this may be a job for you. When a medical utensil comes out of the operating room, they need to properly clean it. In a hospital, everything must be very clean, so this part of the hospital is one of the most critical portions. Without proper cleaning of instruments, many people would get sick and possibly die.

The Processing of Instruments

After a medical utensil comes out of the operating room, it must go through rigorous cleaning before the next patient can use it. It goes to a decontamination room after being utilized and is first cleaned manually. After this, it is put into a sonic irrigator or an ultrasonic cleaning machine. When this process is done, it next is put into a disinfectant unit. 

After this, someone with sterile processing certification will prepare the instrument and pack it to get it ready for more sterilization. It then gets returned to the Emergency Room or other medical procedure room and is used on the next patient. All specialists wear protective gear to keep themselves safe from contamination as well as keeping the process of sterilization secure. Without all these processes in place, contamination can occur at any step in the process, if it is missed.

Decontamination Procedures

One an instrument has been soiled from a medical procedure, it needs to go to the decontamination area. This area is for getting rid of obvious signs of soil and blood and other medical waste. It is also checked over thoroughly to make sure the instrument is still intact for the next patient. They don’t want to use any utensils that have been corroded or damaged in any way. Until it is cleaned, it can not be sterilized. Sometimes after an inspection, an instrument must be taken apart and reassembled to put it back to complete working order. In some institutions after a manual cleaning, it goes through an automated machine. It also depends on how delicate an instrument is and if it can survive an automatic washer. To do a manual cleaning, you need at least a two bay sink.

Sterilization Process

After cleaning of the instrument has been completed, it gets prepared and packed for sterilization. There are many ways to sterilize an instrument. Steam sterilization is one way to do it. This is also called an autoclave. This cycling machine uses steam flush pressure pulse, gravity and pre-vacuuming methods. Different instruments take different amounts of time to adequately sterilize the equipment. The technician checks at the end of the cycle to make sure that all criteria for cleanliness has been met. Chemical and biological indicators are also in place to double check that it has been properly sterilized.

Other Methods of Sterilization

Other ways to sterilize an instrument include a variety of methods. One can use microwaves, dry heat, Formaldehyde gas, Hydrogen peroxide plasma,

Ozone gas,chemical solutions and Ionizing radiation. It all depends on the type of instrument that needs to be cleaned on what is most effective. 

Different hospitals utilize different sterilization techniques. All of them have their benefits to them and it can be largely up to what is the latest technology available and the budget constraints of the hospital which methods are chosen to sterilize instruments.