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The Issues with Resterilising Medical Equipment

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Sterilising medical equipment is a vital part of the surgical process. The risk of infecting a patient on the table is very high, and the best way to avoid it is to keep the room, the staff, and the tools as clean as possible.

But sometimes resterilising tools is necessary. It’s imperative that it gets done, but it comes with problems. We’re breaking down the issues with resterilising medical equipment and surgical tools.

It’s high risk

It is clear that the key to keeping a safe environment for surgery is to keep it clean. Surgeons and staff go through a rigorous cleaning regime before they can enter the room, the operating room goes through a deep cleaning process before and after the surgery, and the tools are all cleaned until they are immaculate.

Or they should be. Tools should be resterilised after every surgery, ready for use on the next patient, but that department has lacked modern history. The Centre for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration has uncovered a lot of issues with unsterilised tools, that put 9,500 patients at risk of infection in North America.

If tools aren’t sterilised properly, patients are at risk of infections, which can be deadly. (1)

It takes time

Every surgery is a risk. This is less to do with the work being done on the patient and more to do with anaesthesia. The longer you are under anaesthesia, the higher the risk of you gaining some negative effects from it.

Therefore, everything the operating team can do to be as quick as possible will be beneficial. If someone is spending time removing tools, taking the time to resterilise them, and offering them back to the table, the patient is waiting under anaesthesia all that time.

It’s also an issue with tools that need adjusted throughout the surgery. If the surgeon has to pause, often, while tools like a surgery retractor are being adjusted as needed, and then resterilised because someone has handled it, it’s going to slow down the surgery.

That’s why there are surgery retractors like the Galaxy II from June Medical, which does all the work hands free, eliminating the need for resterilising and letting the surgery move a lot quicker. (2)

It takes an extra pair of hands

It is important that the amount of people in an operating room stays minimal for the sake of avoiding infection. Patients are in a very vulnerable state in the operating room, susceptible to infection from a hole in a glove. This is why there is strict and extensive cleaning regimes on surgeons, tools, and the room at large.

Any given surgery is going to have at least 5 pairs of hands in the room, including a surgeon, the anesthesiologist, at least two scrub techs, one circulating tech and extra nurses and students as needed. There is a team in charge of sterilising tools before they reach the table, but resterilising tools means allowing another person into the room, upping the chances of infection for the patient.