What is decontamination?
Decontamination is the process of ensuring that all re-usable medical and surgical devices, such as endoscopes and surgical instruments, are thoroughly cleaned and sterilised in line with strict guidelines and standards before they can be re-used.
To give an idea of the complexity behind the decontamination process, here are the key stages of decontamination:
What needs decontaminating?
There are many re-usable medical and surgical devices throughout various areas of healthcare including operating theatres, clinics, wards, accident and emergency departments and many more. Some examples of re-usable devices, tools or instruments include:
- Scalpel handles
- Artery forceps
- Orthopedic drills
- Dental instruments
- Medical devices used in plastic or eye surgery
Why is decontamination so important?
It is imperative that any medical instrument, tool or device, both new and re-used, are thoroughly decontaminated before they are used. This is because they may contain traces of skin tissue, blood, bodily fluids or other unwanted body from its previous use and therefore needs to be decontaminated before they can be re-used.
Lack of successful decontamination can result in major problems such as devices being refused from theatre and as a result stopping an operation from going forward, no matter the size and importance of the operation.
All instruments are run through a meticulous process of decontamination following strict guidelines and procedures. Decontamination standards include Health Technical Memoranda, Health Building Notes, International and European standards and standard equipment specifications.