Keeping up with the latest sterile processing challenges is multifaceted.

Preventing Infection

Staying Ahead of the Latest in Aeration, Drying, Storage and Transportation Standards

“In the typical [sterile processing] department with limited instrument inventory, staffing challenges, and pressures to turn these items around quickly for subsequent procedures, 10 minutes can seem like 10 hours in the face of competing priorities."

Sterile processing jobs require meticulous attention to ever-changing cleaning and disinfection standards, but also much more.

There are also countless challenges related to aeration and drying.

“In the typical [sterile processing] department with limited instrument inventory, staffing challenges, and pressures to turn these items around quickly for subsequent procedures, 10 minutes can seem like 10 hours in the face of competing priorities,” wrote Kara Nadeau, sterile processing editor for Healthcare Purchasing News (HPN).

Sterile processing department leaders at Sanford Hospital Sioux Falls said they stay abreast of the latest changes in endoscope processing standards by assessing weekly whether changes in practice are needed.

“We want to be there and ready so when the Joint Commission visits us, they will say, ‘You’re a step ahead,’ Lori Buskol, that hospital’s lead coordinator of central processing/surgical services, told HPN. “And that’s what we want to be.”

ANSI/AAMI ST91:2021 states that the channels of high-level disinfected endoscopes must be dry before storage to help prevent bacterial growth and biofilm formation. They advocate methods that dry endoscopes with filtered air, noting that some storage cabinets can both secure processed scopes and circulate air through them.

Related Content: How Quickly Can Bacteria Repopulate on a Damp Endoscope?

The Sioux Falls department also equips staff with documentation on each of its scopes regarding the size of tubing and connectors required for the drying cabinet.

To be sure that scopes are dry and calibration is correct, that department applies specially designed colored paper to the distal end of the scope, which shows whether there is any residual moisture.

That department also uses a two-cabinet storage process, keeping one in the sterile processing department and the other in the OR. That way scopes are always hanging and aerating to stay clean and dry, Buskol said in HPN.

That two-cabinet system also makes transportation easier.

Her department attaches gloves to the drying cabinet to use when removing scopes and sani wipes to clean surfaces such as cabinet handles after touching them, to help enforce standards around scope handling.

Any time a standards body suggests a new practice, you can expect it to become a recommendation in the future, Buskol notes.

“When a new suggested practice arises, we establish our process and supporting documents, watch someone unfamiliar with the process try to complete it, grade their success and if they have problems change the process/documents accordingly,” she told HPN.

Ambu single-use endoscopes eliminate the need for keeping up with shifting cleaning, disinfecting and transportation standards. There is never any need for reprocessing or repairs because the scopes are sterile from the package, used once and discarded.

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