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Sterile processing technicians (SPTs) play a crucial role in preventing the spread of infections in hospitals and clinics. SPTs ensure medical instruments and equipment are properly cleaned and sterilized. Discover the responsibilities of sterile processing technicians and how they save lives.
Instrument Cleaning and Decontamination
SPTs thoroughly clean and decontaminate medical equipment and instruments. After use, medical devices become contaminated with bodily fluids, tissues, and microorganisms. These materials create an infection risk.
SPTs disassemble, clean, and decontaminate each instrument using specialized cleaning agents and devices. Cleaning is a critical step that sets the foundation for sterile patient care.
Assembly and Packaging
After cleaning and inspecting the instruments, SPTs carefully assemble and package them by following detailed instructions. This packaging maintains the instruments’ sterility up to the point of use.
The packaging material must allow the sterilant to contact the device during sterilization. Packaging also protects the instrument from contamination during storage and handling before use. Packaging may comprise textiles, pouches, rigid containers, and non-woven materials.
As the profession’s name suggests, one of the key responsibilities of sterile processing technicians is to sterilize instruments. Sterilization removes bacteria and other microorganisms from an object, which is essential for infection control.
SPTs learn how to operate sterilizing equipment, such as autoclaves that sterilize with pressurized steam. One of the top autoclave tips for healthcare professionals is to lead the compartment correctly to ensure the sterilant touches every surface and kills harmful microorganisms. Failing to use sterilizing equipment correctly can leave pathogens on instruments and cause the spread of healthcare-associated infections.
SPTs ensure the quality of their work by monitoring the sterilization process. They verify the efficacy of sterilization processes with mechanical device features, chemical indicators, and biological indicators.
SPTs follow written policies and procedures, including operating the sterilizer and handling sterile items that are ready for use. They maintain and review records for every tool they process to ensure accurate tracking and accountability.
Sterile processing technicians clean, package, and sterilize medical devices. They perform quality assurance tasks, including monitoring and recording their processes, to maintain high standards for patient care.