5 Common Sterilization Risks in Off-Site Clinics and Surgical Facilities
Hospital infections are one of the most important challenges that health centers have to deal with constantly. Healthcare-associated infections can not only increase the hospitalization period but also result in complications and death. Today, the healthcare services market is changing rapidly. There is stiff competition, consumers have become savvier, and laws and policies governing the industry are constantly changing. When it comes to the sterile process, some hospitals are moving their operations to off-site clinics and surgical facilities. While the move offers several benefits, there are some risks.
Here are some of them:
Errors or Poor Processing Records in Off-Site Clinics
Managing an offsite facility requires that both staff and the leadership have access to reliable data. This means that it should be easy to access, view, and track accurate and near real-time data. To achieve this, all records need to be maintained for compliance. This will go a long way in making sure that there are standards processes and systems that promote an efficient interface between the offsite facility and its onsite counterparts. Part of the information that needs to be recorded with every sterilization cycle includes sterilizer identification, type of sterilizer and cycle used, load contents, lot control number, operator’s name and results of the sterilization process monitors. With offsite facilities, it can be difficult to ensure data integrity and process standardization.
Contamination During Transportation
Offsite facilities present the risk of contamination during transportation. When collecting soiled instruments and delivering sterile material to clinical staff, it is critical that clean items are kept separate from dirty items. Generally, the best practice is never to transport sterile and dirty in the same vehicle at the same time. When transporting tools and equipment to and from the offsite facilities, there is the possibility that the two will mix, resulting in contamination that could lead to the spread of infections. Such facilities are often associated with the challenges of handling the items in the right manner. With the added travel time, already sterilized items can get contaminated when being transported to onsite facilities for use.
Depending on the transportation cart being used, the tools and equipment may also get contaminated. This is more likely to happen if the cart is not designed appropriately. In most cases, a transportation cart that cannot effectively contain bioburden, prevent items from falling or getting damaged, or is unable to maintain sterility will compromise standards. The design of the cart should also make it easy to clean up. Without proper facilities, transportation will present serious challenges.
Safety Risks for Staff
The safety of different staff members is at risk when hospitals opt for offsite sterilization facilities. Staff members are exposed to the risk of infections, particularly when they do not have the right attire and personnel protective equipment. The time it takes to collect tools and equipment to transport them to the sterilization facility allows tissue, blood, and other substances to harden onto the instruments. This happens when they are not treated post-procedure.
There is a chance that some of the containers used to hold these instruments during transportation will leak. This is why it is important to use leak-proof containers and ensure that the lids are locked securely into place. In the event that this is not done, the solutions or fluids in the containers could splash around, contaminating both the transport vehicle and personnel.
Operating from off-site clinics or surgical facilities is also associated with environmental risks. For instance, the facility could be located in a non-medical building that is not ideal for medical use. In case the building does not make it possible to have a pass-thru window between the clean area and the decontamination area, cleanliness standards may be compromised. Similarly, if the walls and floors are not constructed using the right materials, they will not be able to withstand daily scrubbing with chemical agents. This will make it difficult to keep the facility clean at all times.
The building should also be designed in such a way that there is positive airflow ventilation. The work area should have a temperature range between 68 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit, while the decontamination area should be between 60 and 65. All areas should have a relative humidity of between 30 and 60 percent. The location of an off-site facility can make it difficult to achieve and maintain these conditions.
Expertise and Technology
The risks associated with off-site clinics and facilities go beyond healthcare-associated infections. Medical devices are becoming increasingly complex, making it more difficult to clean and sterilize them. In order to ensure a sterilization process that meets and complies with the set standards, you need to have a highly skilled workforce and use modern technology. Off-site clinics and surgical facilities may present challenges when it comes to skilled labor and technology. This will make it difficult to convert infected tools and equipment into safe, sterile, and secure ones. Depending on an individual facility, the sterilization process can take long, making it hard for the staff to ensure proper inventory management as well as the availability of instruments and supplies at a moment’s notice. In the end, this will have an adverse effect on the quality of healthcare provided.
Learn More About Sterilization Risks in Off-Site Clinics
There is no doubt that sterilization helps to ensure different instruments are safe to handle and use. However, it is extremely important that the equipment is individually wrapped. This will help to minimize the chances of contamination during transportation and go a long way in ensuring the safety of staff. If the tools fall by accident, they are less likely to be damaged when they are individually wrapped.
Here at obp, we know the use of individually wrapped, self-lit, single-use medical instruments can reduce contamination risk and sterilization problems. We offer unique products designed to enhance the off-site clinic experience for professionals. Our goal is to improve patient life by improving YOUR life, by reducing contamination, improving lighting, and caring about patients on a global scale. If you’d like to learn more about our unique medical devices and designs, contact us today!