With COVID-19 cases throughout the United States, are there new processes for sterile techs to follow? Sterile techs have been — and continue to be — a primary defense against infection in healthcare settings. Their work keeps patients, healthcare providers, and others safe from disease, including COVID-19.
Follow Standard Procedures
Sterile techs clean, disinfect, and sterilize tools and equipment; then, they distribute the items to be used again. This is a critical role, and it is essential for any healthcare facility to function correctly. With COVID-19, as with other germs, there’s one way to go: follow standard practices for high-level disinfection and sterilization, as described in the CDC Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008.
In other words, stick with what works. It is essential to adhere to the standards of best practice, as they do not change each time a new virus or bacteria is introduced. This is important because it involves sterile techs doing what they know best. They have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to disinfect and sanitize instruments to maximize safety.
Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions for Use (IFU)
These best practices are based partly on following the recommendations issued by the manufacturer of each tool or instrument. Following the manufacturer’s instructions for use (IFU) ensures proper cleaning. Deviating from this may result in practices that do not clean the item thoroughly or adequately. In addition, failing to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for a particular detail may damage it over time.
It’s important to note that these instructions must not be compromised at any time, even during a critical time, such as a pandemic. Cutting corners could result in sending a contaminated device back into service without properly disinfecting or sterilizing it, and this could have potentially hazardous consequences. These consequences aren’t limited to the transmission of COVID-19; they could result in various infections.
Sterile processing, like all other departments in a healthcare facility, must also consider their workspace. When was the last time it got a thorough deep cleaning? This is important for the entire space, including computers at workstations: now is a great time to blow out the fans and keyboards. Contamination in one area can lead to contamination in other areas, so cleaning should happen regularly.
Finally, it’s important to note that healthcare workers face enormous stressors during normal times, but especially during the pandemic. So sterile techs, like all healthcare workers, must be vigilant about winding down, so the stress doesn’t become overwhelming. Whatever works: reading a book, going for a walk, cooking a favorite meal, or maybe catching up on sleep.
Keep Up the Good Work
At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. You’re working hard, doing your job, and keeping people safe. You are valuable, and your work is appreciated. We’ll be here when you’re looking for your next assignment: 310.436.3650.