Why your sterile processing department should add one

Healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) are estimated to directly cost US hospitals $28 billion to $45 billion.¹ Surgical site infections (SSIs) are a small percentage of that, but their cost to US hospitals still runs into billions of dollars. That doesn’t count the costs to the patients themselves.

The proper cleaning and sterilization of medical instruments and devices can prevent HAIs and SSIs by preventing the spread of pathogens from one patient to another. Ultrasonic cleaners play a crucial role in sterile processing due to their effectiveness in cleaning medical instruments and improving sterilization.

Ultrasonics are essential

Here are seven reasons why they are essential equipment for hospitals and their sterile processing departments (SPDs):

  1. Efficient cleaning: Ultrasonic cleaners use high-frequency sound waves to create millions of microscopic bubbles that implode, releasing energy that effectively removes dirt, debris, and contaminants from the surface of medical instruments (called cavitation). This process allows for thorough cleaning even in hard-to-reach areas, like joints, box locks, and inside lumens.
  2. Time-saving: Compared to manual cleaning methods, ultrasonic cleaners can significantly reduce cleaning time. They can clean multiple instruments—and multiple types of instruments—simultaneously, leading to increased efficiency and productivity in hospital settings where time is of the essence to keep operating rooms humming.
  3. Consistent results: Ultrasonic cleaning provides consistent and reliable results, ensuring that medical instruments are cleaned thoroughly every time. This consistency is vital for maintaining strict hygiene standards and preventing the spread of infections in healthcare facilities.
  4. Preservation of instruments: Ultrasonic cleaning is gentle on delicate medical instruments, minimizing the risk of damage or corrosion. It can be used on complex robotic instruments and other devices with small components. This helps prolong the lifespan of expensive equipment, reducing the need for frequent replacements and saving hospital resources in the long run.
  5. Sterilization support: While ultrasonic cleaners primarily focus on cleaning, they can also complement sterilization processes by removing stubborn contaminants that may interfere with sterilization effectiveness. With a combination of detergent and cavitation, they can break up and remove biofilm that may be hiding bacteria. This ensures that instruments are thoroughly cleaned before undergoing sterilization, enhancing overall infection control measures.
  6. User-friendly: Ultrasonic cleaners are relatively easy to operate, requiring minimal training for hospital staff. This simplicity allows for seamless integration into existing workflows, making them an indispensable tool for busy healthcare environments.
  7. Compliance with regulations: Healthcare facilities are subject to stringent regulations and standards regarding instrument cleaning and sterilization. Ultrasonic cleaners help hospitals meet these regulatory requirements by providing a reliable and efficient method for instrument cleaning, thus ensuring compliance and maintaining patient safety. They often are recommended or required by instrument instructions for use.
Indispensable equipment

Ultrasonic cleaners have become indispensable equipment in hospitals due to their effectiveness, consistency, and sterilization support. These devices play a vital role in maintaining high standards of hygiene and infection control in healthcare settings, ultimately contributing to improved patient outcomes. By increasing efficiency, prolonging instrument life, and being easy to operate, they positively impact the SPD’s bottom line.

 References

  1. Gidey, K., Gidey, M. T., Hailu, B. Y., Gebreamlak, Z. B., & Niriayo, Y. L. (2023). Clinical and economic burden of healthcare-associated infections: A prospective cohort study. PloS one, 18(2), e0282141. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0282141