Sterile Wrapping Prevents Recontamination

Sterile processing departments sterilize thousands of instruments daily. Each successful sterilization process ensures that bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing agents left on instrumentation have been destroyed. These instruments remain sterile as long as they are not exposed to sources of bacteria or viruses such as counters, hands, and even the air itself. This is where packaging comes into play. Packaging provides a barrier that shields sterile instruments from recontamination after sterilization.

Sterile processing is a critical aspect of patient safety and one of the few areas of patient care in which the patient has no direct involvement and is not normally present to observe. Incomplete or inappropriate sterile processing has the potential to cause harm to both patients and health care workers involved in the process.

A systematic approach is useful in work processes where standardization is important to achieve a consistent outcome. A system for sterile processing should include, at a minimum:

1. Following existing standards and recommendations

2. Consideration of physical work flow

3. Occupational safety

4. Selection of appropriate packaging materials

5. Quality assurance

6. Central Processing inventory management

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