Decontamination involves several processes including cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation which will make reusable surgical instruments safe for further use on patients.
Phase 1 – Cleaning and Disinfection
Effective cleaning and disinfection before sterilisation is very important. Whenever possible, cleaning should be done using an automated and validated process.
The SSD has four automated washer-disinfectors which are used to clean and disinfect surgical instruments. The use of ultrasonic cleaners is also used to assist the process. The automated wash process includes a cool pre-wash, pulsed enzyme phase, main wash, rinse, thermal disinfect, rinse and drying phase.
Phase 2 – Inspection and packing
First we do a visual check on every item that has been washed to check they are clean and dry as part of the decontamination process.
Basic function tests are carried out on instruments; however it is not possible to mimic the actual use of a surgical instrument. Accuracy checks are also made before the instruments are packaged.
Packaging materials are used to contain and protect the instruments, to allow sterilisation to take place and prevent contamination. The instrument packs are labelled in accordance with the requirements of BS EN 980.
Phase 3- Sterilisation
The department has five porous load sterilisers. Sterility indicators are used along with sterilisation cycle parameters to ensure that instrument trays and packs are sterile at the end of the cycle.