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How Medical Equipment is Sterilized – A Simple Overview

By: Daniel Prince

Ever wondered how medical equipment is sterilized? Ever wondered what the procedure for medical device cleaning and sterilization was? Well, here is a basic overview of medical instrument sterilization and cleaning. Mind you, different hospitals and clinics may have different or more specific approaches. However, this is a basic overview.


Frequent Cleaning

Whenever a medical instrument is used, it is constantly cleaned after every use. This ensures that blood or other infectious material or bacteria do not accumulate on the instrument. If that were to happen, it becomes even more difficult to remove the stains.


Thorough Cleaning with Steam

Even though medical equipment is wiped down after every use, medical device cleaning via steam is crucial for complete instrument sterilization. In most cases, sterilization using steam is a vital process that most hospitals employ to safeguard patient safety.

Instrument sterilization using steam leaves no harmful chemical residues and all microbes are destroyed.


Thorough Drying

After thorough cleaning, medical equipment is thoroughly dried. This is an important process for complete instrument sterilization. Proper medical device cleaning requires that equipment should be thoroughly washed and dried before it is put into an autoclave. Many hospitals use the process of sterilization via dry heat to dry medical instruments.


Putting Equipment in an Autoclave

Once equipment has been properly washed and dried, it is then put into an autoclave. It is here that more heat, steam and high pressure is used to truly ensure proper instrument sterilization. Each instrument is placed approximately 1 inch away from each other and the machine is closed and the sterilization is allowed to continue for the validated cycle.


Maintain a Log

Once instrument sterilization has been achieved, it is vital that a medical device cleaning and sterilization log is maintained. Documentation is critical for compliance of the necessary steps required to achieve patient safety.