As most of you know, Case Medical is a manufacturer of sterilization trays and instrument chemistries. We are FDA registered, ISO certified and have FDA 510k and CE mark for our products. We have been honored to receive a preferred partnership with the US EPA for our environmentally friendly, sustainable instrument chemistries.
While everyone wants to save time, energy and water, we also need to be aware of the consequences with “quick” cycles programmed in automated washers.
There are many instrument chemistries on the market; some have single or dual enzymes, others with multiple enzymes, some pH neutral and others alkaline and some high alkaline requiring an acid neutralizer. There are ready to use, concentrated, super concentrated, liquid or solid cleaners to choose from. Nonetheless, all instrument cleaners have the same purpose to remove organic and inorganic contaminants, as well as bioburden. But, to be effective all must be washed away. Thus, whether manual cleaning or automated cleaning is done rinsing is critical to remove soil and detergent residues.
It has been brought to our attention recently that new automated washers and even some existing units have pre-programmed short cycles. Some have no rinse at all between the enzyme and detergent cycles. Some have only a 15 second rinse for the entire process!
Others use cold water for enzyme cycles to save energy. While some enzymatic cleaners can activate at room temperatures, more time may be needed to achieve cleaning. Warm water can contribute to improved enzyme action. When cold water is used, more time and perhaps more product is required. This is true of detergents as well as enzymatic cleaners. This is why we always recommend a minimum of two minutes for each cleaning step followed by a thorough rinse.
While all of us have worked hard to reduce “flash” sterilization cycles, recognizing the issues when surgical devices are processed without adequate time, what are we doing now by transitioning to express or short “FLASH” wash cycles? If thorough pre-cleaning and rinsing occurs, then these “FLASH” wash cycles can provide an effective secondary cleaning process.
However, what is our assurance the cleaning process has been effective for patient care? Although cleaning indicators can target a process failure or a pass, they do not give any information on why the process failed. Again, it comes to using the correct product and process, following manufacturer’s recommendations and considering the consequences for our actions when we short cut the process.
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