How To Clean and Sterilize Basic Medical Equipment

Updated on September 19, 2022
How To Clean and Sterilize Basic Medical Equipment

Cleaning and sterilizing the basic medical equipment at your hospital or clinic is critical to preventing the spread of bacteria and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) from one patient to another. Patient care is of utmost importance. Therefore, the practices and strategies professionals use to sterilize instruments must be done correctly, or you could risk patients’ health. Below, we explain the benefits of this practice, and we discuss different strategies and standards in all medical facilities.

The Benefits of Equipment Sterilization

During invasive procedures, medical professionals may use an instrument or device to help them during treatment. This equipment will come into contact with mucous membranes, foreign particles, and sterile tissue. While the benefits of sterilization are somewhat obvious, here is a short list:

  • Eliminates blood, dirt, foreign particles, and pus that can be left behind on instruments that could otherwise lead to complications for the next patient
  • Removes any leftover surviving germs and bacteria
  • Decreases non-sterile bacteria living on the instruments
  • Prevents corrosion and the spread of HAIs

Strategies To Use in a Pinch

We will get into the standard practice for sterilizing equipment later. For now, you can use the following strategies for cleaning and sterilizing your basic medical equipment if you’re in a pinch. Soaking the devices in a 0.1% bleach solution (sodium or calcium hypochlorite) or isopropyl alcohol is a viable option when nothing else is available.

As for common aluminum medical applications, like IV stands and gurneys, you may need to use different sterilization methods. These devices are not critical because they only come into contact with the skin, so you may only need to disinfect these surfaces instead of sterilizing them too.

The Standard Sterilization Practice in All Medical Facilities

In every modern medical facility, the standard for sterilizing medical instruments is with an autoclave, which is like a pressure cooker. An autoclave uses steam to clean the tools for minor surgical procedures. More critical devices that come into contact with sterile tissue will require this device for sterilization. Instruments are sealed in a pouch and placed in the machine for processing. Afterward, the equipment should be ready for use again.

Cleaning and sterilizing medical equipment are highly essential in any medical setting. Remember to always use an autoclave for minor surgical instruments and a detergent with a disinfectant for the shared patient devices. Follow the best practices and standards for facilities to promote the best patient care.