STERILIZATION AND DISINFECTION
Section I. GENERAL
a. General. One of the most important responsibilities of personnel in the CMS
is to ensure that equipment is maintained properly and that supplies are sterilized
properly. The lives of our patients depend on this. To effectively perform this
responsibility, you should: (1) understand the relationship between microorganisms and
disease; (2) know the basic principles of sterilization; and (3) know and apply the proper
methods of processing supplies and equipment.
(1) The importance of properly processing supplies for the protection of
patients and the safeguarding of personnel cannot be overstressed. The safest method
of processing should always be used.
(2) Sterilization is defined as that established and approved process by
which all forms of microorganisms are destroyed. The aim of sterilization is to destroy
all microorganisms including spore-forming microbes. There are three commonly used
ways to sterilize supplies and equipment. They are: saturated steam under pressure,
EO gas, and dry heat. Steam sterilization and gas sterilization will be discussed in this
subcourse. Dry heat is rarely used in the CMS.
b. Basic Principles of Sterilization. Sterilization is essential for the destruction
of all microorganisms. You must know the basic principles of sterilization to work in the
CMS. These principles include:
Items used in a hospital should not be adversely affected by sterilization.
(2) Items to be sterilized must be free from all foreign substances to permit
surface contact with the sterilizing agent.
(3) Items must be assembled and positioned so that complete penetration of
the sterilizing agent is possible.
(4) Required time and temperature must be followed for complete
destruction of all microorganisms.
(5) Sterilizers and sterilizing agents must be working correctly and properly
so they should be checked periodically for efficiency and accuracy.
Sterilizers must be operated according to instructions.