Clean Health Care: How to Keep a Medical Environment Sterile
Everyone knows that keeping medical environments sterile is important, but these ongoing tasks become more difficult as the organization grows in size. Below introduces four ways that will help you keep a medical environment clean and sterile.
Follow Standard Procedures
Every medical organization will have internal procedures for environmental sterilization that are based on external regulatory standards. For instance, the CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) released disinfection and sterilization standards that are stringently followed throughout the health care industry. These include category rankings, which classify recommendations regarding exposure, disinfection procedures, patient-care device cleaning and environmental surfaces. For instance, non-critical care items, such as blood pressure machines, still need to be cleaned after every use.
Create a Plan
Ensuring that a medical environment maintains sterility and cleanliness is an ongoing challenge. It helps to use a sterilization matrix that maps out all the details of every duty, regulatory requirements and specific procedures for each task.
For example, maintenance must regularly decontaminate mop heads and cleaning clothes to prevent contamination through daily washing. Disinfectant solutions should be changed every hour. Certain tasks require create care, such as disassembling and soaking endoscopes, which are easily breakable. Every task, device and health care service will need to have detailed guidelines that train employees on proper procedures.
Use a Variety of Methods
There are multiple ways to perform sterilization processes. The six standard methods for equipment sterilization include gas, plasma, irradiation and dry and wet heat. Every process or piece of equipment will have its own manufacturer and ISO standard. Certain methods work best in certain situations.
For example, plasma cleans glass the best and gas works best for materials that are sensitive to high heat. Furthermore, companies ensure that medical device packaging has the requisite strength and microbial barrier needed for safe practical use. Health care organizations and manufacturers are always experimenting with alternative and innovative sterilization methods.
The fight to maintain completely sterile health care environments is only possible through the cooperation of health care organizations, medical equipment manufacturers and regulatory bodies. While everyone follows the universally agreed upon standards, not everyone is open to implement recommended improvements, especially if they cost time and money.
Medical organizations can internally increase collaboration through holding employees accountable and providing adequate training. Medical organizations can externally increase cooperation through finding improvement opportunities with vendors and contractors.
As health care employees and organizations pay more attention to the importance of medical environment sterilization, patient care quality and satisfaction will naturally increase.