PRINCIPLES OF STERILE TECHNIQUE
a. The principles of sterile technique are applied in various ways. In the
following paragraphs, the principles of sterile technique and examples of their
application are discussed. When the OR specialist understands the principles, he
should be aware of other examples of their application.
b. All materials used as a part of the sterile field for an operation must be
sterile. Certain basic items (such as the linen, the instrument set, and the basins) may
be obtained from the supply kept in the sterile supply room. Others, such as specialized
surgical instruments, may be sterilized the night before or immediately preceding the
operation and taken directly from the sterilizer to the sterile operative field. Once an
item is removed from a sterile wrapper, it must be used or discarded.
(1) Linen used in the operating room is usually dyed green. This helps to
reduce the glare from lights, thus reducing fatigue and eyestrain.
(2) Linen selected for use in the operating room should be checked to
ensure that the linen is not torn or frayed and that no holes are present in the cloth.
Likewise, it should be handled gently to prevent lint and dust from being spread about
(3) Only materials known to be sterile should be used and their sterility
should be maintained throughout the operative procedure.
(4) Sterile areas are set up just prior to use.
(5) Scrub attire should not be worn outside the surgical suite.
(6) All team members should wash hands before and after the care of
Items should be considered unsterile if there is doubt about their sterility.
(1) If a sterile-appearing package is found in an area not designated for
sterile storage, it is considered unsterile and must be reprocessed and re-sterilized.
(2) If there is doubt about the timing of a sterilizer, its contents are
(3) If an "unsterile" person brushes close to a sterile table, the table is
considered contaminated. Also, if a "sterile" person brushes close to an unsterile table,
the person's sterile gown is considered contaminated.
(4) If a sterile table or sterile items are left unmonitored, the table and
items are considered unsterile.