APIC study results demonstrates how a cleaning prior to sterilizing surgical instruments protocol renders sterile surgical instruments. After being cleaned in a surgical instrument washer, using an enzyme surgical instrument cleaning detergent, all pathogens were removed. All surgical instruments, cleaned prior to terminal sterilization, tested were sterile at the completion of the process.

APIC Eighteenth Annual Conference and International Meeting: Validation of the microbial safety of surgical instruments and utensils following automated cleaning by a properly designed surgical instrument washer. The application of universal precautions to instruments and utensils being handling became an issue in the selection of replacement decontamination equipment for Central Sterile supply at our hospital. The new technology of an automated thermal disinfection surgical instrument washer offered increased protection to our reprocessing staff due to decreased handling but raised concerns about the efficacy of thermal disinfection as opposed to traditional washer sterilization. Because of the limited scientific documentation of this new technology, a study was undertaken to establish the microbial safety of finished products and to identify any feature or function failure which could adversely affect outcome.The sequential functions of the surgical instrument washer progress from flush/rinse, sonic bath, wash, rinse, lubricant/ deionized water DI sprays to drying at 240 F. for 4 minutes. The surgical instrument washer was challenged with selected instruments and utensils that are considered to be very difficult to clean. Included were 30 each of stainless steel non-perforating towel clips and stainless steel and glass medicine cups. Each item was rinsed with a 10 5ml  suspension of Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Candida albicans in nutrient media and then dried. The instruments were processed in the surgical instrument washer separate loads during times of high volume operation.

All products were tested for sterility. Ten separate cultures were taken of the final rinse solution of instrument lubricant and purified water prior to the drying cycle. A separate culture was taken of the instrument lubricant fluid. All instruments and utensils tested were sterile at the completion of the process.

The surgical instrument washer, using the proper sequence of treatments, that include within the surgical instrument cleaning protocol the correct times and temperatures, as well as the appropriate surgical instrument cleaning detergent, is a valid, and probably a superior replacement, for the conventional washer-sterilizer.

John Temple Product Development

Cleaning and Disinfecting Surgical Instruments

Disinfecting Surgical Instruments

Sterilizing Surgical instruments

Cleaning Prior to Sterilizing Surgical instruments

Surgical Instrument Reprocessing
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Surgical Instrument Cleaning Detergents
Cleaning surgical instruments prior to sterilization, the surgical instrument washer, using the proper sequence of treatments, that include within the surgical instrument cleaning protocol the correct times and temperatures, as well as the appropriate surgical instrument cleaning detergent, is a valid, and probably a superior replacement, for the conventional washer-sterilizer. All instruments and utensils tested were sterile at the completion of the process.
Cleaning Surgical Instruments
Prior to Sterilization