Prolong the Life of Your Instruments
By Amanda Esposito |
Surgical instruments are a significant investment for every veterinary clinic. It is important to consider how to protect that investment while at the same time, protecting the health of your patients. Well-manufactured instruments should last for years, but the longevity of the instrument will also depend on the quality of care received during those years. Due to an inadequate cleaning protocol, instruments reach the end of their useful life pre-maturely or worse, they may become corroded, which allows for the adherence of bacteria, resulting in contamination. Enabling contamination may consequently result in patient infection, which in turn costs you time, money and potentially the relationship with your client. Below are some tips that your practice can implement today to ensure your instruments last for years and are safe for use on your patients.
The importance of cleaning your instrument should not be underestimated. Proper cleaning prevents cross-contamination and allows for the instrument to be properly sterilized.
- Always begin the cleaning process within 10 minutes of finishing a surgical procedure. This will prevent bio-burden from drying on the instrument. Soil left on an instrument prior to autoclaving may shield bacteria, allowing them to survive the sterilization process and may also cause corrosion.
- If you are unable to clean instruments immediately, using an enzymatic spray and keeping the instruments moist will prevent bio-burden from drying on and causing corrosion.
- While manual cleaning is a good first step, ultrasonic cleaning is far more effective than manual cleaning alone and will remove even microscopic traces of bio-burden trapped in serrations or hinges.
Surgical instruments should always be cleaned using pH neutral cleaners specifically labeled for instrument cleaning.
- Harsh cleaners such as chlorhexidine, bleach and peroxide will cause corrosion over time.
- Cleaning solutions should be changed at least once per day to ensure that they are still effective and not contaminated.
- Instruments should never be allowed to soak in any liquid for prolonged periods of time. This includes cold sterile solutions and milk baths.
- Instruments should be visually inspected after each use for defects.
- Any instruments that are pitted, corroded, cracked or otherwise damaged should be removed from the surgical program and replaced at the first signs of an issue.
- Defects in the instrument may harbor harmful bacteria and should be considered a health risk to your patients.
Send instruments in to a reputable repair facility for servicing at least twice yearly.
- A good repair technician will recommend the replacement of any instruments that are corroded, cracked, worn or damaged beyond reasonable repair.
- Regular maintenance also helps circumvent large scale repairs and pre-mature replacement of instruments.
Proper instrument care will help to prolong the useful life of your instruments and safeguard the health of your patients as well. Developing a complete instrument cleaning and care protocol for your hospital will save you time and money, protecting your investment for years to come.