Step 1 - Cleaning
Cleaning begins at the point of use. Instruments need to be wiped over with H2O throughout the surgical case. Do not use normal Saline as it commences the process of corrosion. Do not soak instruments.
Instruments can undergo manual and/or mechanical cleaning to remove all foreign material. Particular attention needs to be paid to box locks, hinges, ratchets and serrations. Follow cleaning instructions as per AS/NZS 4187:2003 meeting all time and temperature requirements. Ensure you meet detergent dilution as determined by the suppliers. Do not use wire brushes, scourers or abrasive cleaners as these will significantly damage your instruments.
Final rinsing with demineralised water is required, followed by thorough drying. The use of tap water will cause instrument discolouration and staining, and can also commence the process of corrosion.
Step 2 - Inspection
Careful inspection is required to ensure instruments are clean, dry, in good condition and fit for purpose. If there is any concern that an instrument will not perform as expected it should be removed from use and sent for service.
Step 3 - Lubrication
To prevent instruments with box locks, hinges and any moving parts from ”freezing” they need to be lubricated regularly. Minimally Invasive Instruments also require particular attention to be paid to moveable components. The lubricant has to be surgical grade and water soluble. Do NOT use a silicone spray as this will render the instrument unsterile. Apply lubricant after cleaning and before sterilizing.
Lubrication is not a substitute for correct cleaning, ensure instruments are correctly cleaned prior to lubrication
Step 4 - Sterilizing
Steam sterilization is the best method to sterilize stainless steel instruments. Be aware that water marks and other residual marks on your instruments may be signs of wet loads, non-condensable gasses or poor quality steam.
Flash sterilization is not recommended as this does not undertake a drying cycle, therefore commencing the process of corrosion.
Ethylene Oxide (EO) and Hydrogen Peroxide Plasma are acceptable methods to sterilize stainless steel instruments. Instruments must have no other components than stainless steel and manufacturers processing recommendations shall be followed.
”Chemical Disinfection” of instruments is not a method of sterilization. This should not be used as it will degrade your instruments and shorten their life. Instruments with ratchets should be sterilized in an open/unlocked position.