The sterilization protocol: human responsibility and technological efficiency.
The protocols that define the procedures to be followed for a correct and effective sterilization of instruments and devices for dental and medical treatments are extremely strict.
Talking about the “sterilization cycle” in the broadest sense of the term means understanding the path a tool undergoes between uses. It also means understanding the peculiar synergy between a responsible and aware operator behaviour and the action of specific products and technologies.
DXP’s experience and know-how intervenes especially at a particularly delicate point characterised by a high technological content – i.e. that of sterilization itself, to be performed in a steam autoclave and choosing the correct cycle based on specific needs after having appropriately placed the materials to be sterilized in pouches.
An overlook, albeit brief, of the protocols to be carried out helps further understand the importance of choosing suitable technologies at the service of the safety and peace of mind of professionals and their patients.
Collection and decontamination
Contaminated tools must be collected following basic yet essential safety measures.
Contaminated tools must be collected following basic yet essential safety measures: it is important that operators use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and that the instruments used are carefully separated from the sterile material and transported with dedicated carts (possibly, in a dedicated room) for their reprocessing. The first operation is decontamination, which entails the immersion of the tools on a tray containing disinfecting liquid for a sufficient time (20 minutes) to guarantee the removal of pathogenic micro-organisms.
Washing and rinsing
Removing the organic and inorganic residues that each treatment necessarily leaves on them is essential so that the autoclave can perform an effective sterilization cycle. The manual or automatic washing procedure with ultrasound cleaners can be chosen compatibly with the characteristics of the materials to be subjected to the treatment.
Double rinsing – with running water first, followed by demineralised water – removes all detergent residues from the instruments.
The first step is to disinfect the instruments, which can be done manually in a tray filled with disinfecting liquid whose formulation varies depending on the biological risk and on the materials to be subject to the treatment, or using a washer-disinfector and choosing the most suitable automatic cycle.
Before being placed in pouches and in the autoclave, the instruments must be perfectly dry: this must be obtained with cloths made of either paper or fabric – the important thing is that they do not leave fibres on the tools, otherwise the process will be unsuccessful. As this operation must be carried out manually, it is especially important that operators wear Personal Protective Equipment to avoid injuring themselves by accident.
Checks and maintenance
After drying, the first – basic yet fundamental – cleaning and hygienic operations are completed and are followed by a thorough inspection of their operating status: in case of deterioration or breakage, their reconditioning process takes longer as extensive maintenance is needed to restore their normal functioning via maintenance, lubrication and other specific treatments if necessary.
This is the last yet very important step before placing the tools instruments in the autoclave – packing must be done using sterilization pouches and professional sealers. It maintains tools sterile over time, protecting them against contaminating agents. DXP supplies sterilization pouch rolls (400 per roll) as well as the DXP NewSeal thermosealer, which packs surgical tools impeccably before their insertion into the autoclave, so they remain sterile once the cycle is complete.
Sterilization is the fundamental step of the entire process, as it makes a contaminated tool reusable guaranteeing the maximum safety for doctors and patients when it comes to infections caused by the micro-organisms that can still be present on the tools after they are washed and disinfected. DXP has over 40 years of experience in the production of high-performance reliable autoclaves that can carry out all types of cycles for class B, S and N devices.
Having the certainty of using tools that have been subjected to a correct and safe sterilization cycle is essential from both a clinical and legal point of view. To guarantee this certainty, at any moment and even after the autoclave procedure, DXP supplies practical and efficient devices – the DXP Domina internal printer, external printer and optional Wi-Fi kits – to file and identify essential data: printed on a label to be associated with the medical record and digitally filed on a PC, testifying to the correctness of the procedure.
Once the sterile condition of the tools is restored, they must be stored – in the pouches – in a place that guarantees suitable hygienic and environmental conditions away from light and heat sources.