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Instrument Processing with Dr. Mary Govoni

Listen to Dr. Mary Govoni about the importance of instrument processing, most common failures with sterilization, and damage prevention of instruments.


Video Transcript

InterviewerWhat are the most common failures in instrument processing and sterilization?

Mary GovoniI think there’s three common failures. The first would be cleaning instruments, in other words failure to clean them appropriately or completely because if all the debris isn’t removed from the instrument, then they won’t be properly sterilized.

The second failure is not operating the sterilizer appropriately: overloading it, not maintaining it, not placing instruments optimally in the sterilizer, so that steam or chemical vapor can’t contact all the instruments to achieve sterilization.

And the third failure I see is a failure to appropriately monitor that the sterilizer is working. And so the centers for disease control and prevention recommend in their infection control guidelines that monitors be – sterilizers be monitored on a weekly basis with a spore test. Many people fail to do that and know that their sterilizer’s working appropriately. But also there’s a lack of monitoring in each particular load of instruments that goes through.

So in other words the sterilizer could be working at the time during the once a week spore test but what happens during all the rest of the loads of instruments the rest of the week? And so there are controls called process integrators that need to be placed in the sterilization packages or cassettes of instruments to make sure that all the instruments were appropriately sterilized. 

InterviewerHow can you prevent damage and loss to instruments during processing?

Mary GovoniThe best way to prevent damage or loss of instruments during processing is to house the instruments in a cassette or some kind of a container when they go into the ultrasonic to be cleaned or into an instrument washer to be cleaned so they don’t bang into each other while they’re being cleaned in the ultrasonic for example. And you keep the setup completely together while they’re going through the sterilization process.

InterviewerWhat can be done to increase the safety of office personnel during sterilization?

Mary GovoniSafety is a major concern during instrument processing because the instruments in most cases have sharp working ends that can puncture the hands of the dental team members who are getting them ready for sterilization. And so there are guidelines from OSHA and recommendations from CDC about wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment which would include protective eye wear and especially wearing puncture resistant utility gloves and having the instruments again in some kind of a container where the sharp contaminated ends are not exposed when the instruments are being handled.

So can’t say enough good things about the use of instrument cassettes for streamlining the work activity and enhancing safety for the team.

Speaker: Mary Govoni, CDA, RDA, RDH, MBA