Alon Lerner

Alon Lerner

Sterilization containers can help you maintain timely service to the OR

 

illustration - person scratching head amid squiggly lines, choasManaging chaos versus and preventing chaos—which would you rather do? You can’t always foresee or prevent disruption; however, if you do see trouble coming, making moves to proactively manage the situation is SMART and can prevent headaches.

Read on to discover a few ways that reusable SteriTite® sterilization containers can keep your department on schedule and bring efficiencies beyond those possible with other containers (and certainly with wrap).

Reduce dependence on wrap

If you’re at one of the facilities dealing with wrap orders filled at 80% allocation, you know that running just 80% of surgeries IS NOT an option. The most straightforward insurance policy against wrap shortfalls is a selection of rigid reusable containers. Keep some in inventory for your most frequently used sets or keep some on hand for loaner drop ins.

Remember, SteriTite containers are universal, thus you can use the same container for steam or low temperature sterilization. Want to speed up the process? Use our paper filters in our perforated bottom container and save up to 20 minutes of dry time. Consider our customization options for processing complex sets. When there’s a place designated for each instrument, it’s easy to identify whether the set is complete.

Cataract Tray YPA1091A14AYou can start by transitioning just one service line from sterilization wrap to containers. Or perhaps begin with one supportive surgeon who will collaborate with the sterile processing team to optimize sets, paring down to just the essential instruments. There are many different approaches that will reduce your dependence on wrap and increase efficiency in your department. Even allocating just 10-25% of your monthly wrap budget to container purchases can make a huge difference and will quickly provide a return on investment.

Simplify loaners and turnarounds

SteriTite container for loaner set drop in

Some of the most challenging and wrap-intensive sets are those that walk through your front door 48 hours before a surgery—loaner sets. In particular, heavy ortho/spine sets use the largest volume of wrap and often include a complete set of duplicates, a wasteful but necessary process when using wrap, to avoid reprocessing in case of tears.

Any sets that are turned frequently can be good candidates for containerization. The benefit is twofold: save time in prep and pack and save money by eliminating the cost of wrap, indicator tape, corner protectors, and any other accessories. FYIa frequently turned set will give you the quickest returns.

Cut down on dry time

SteriTite containers, when used with our paper filters in steam sterilization cycles, have FDA 510(k) clearance for minimum 5- to 8-minute dry times. No other container system can deliver such efficient dry times! Specifics are indicated below.

5-8 minute dry time“SteriTite® containers…may be used for storage and transport after steam sterilization with a reduced dry time. Dry loads will be achieved using a minimum of 5 minutes dry time when using perforated bottom units and a minimum of 8 minutes dry time when using solid bottom units.”

All with an improved environmental footprint

The Case for Rigid Containers CE webinar May 6If your facility measures sustainability initiatives, you’ll want to share this information. According to one source, the healthcare industry discards 255 million pounds of blue wrap each year. Switching to containers helps your facility reduce waste. Over a 10-15 year container life span, that really adds up. Choosing paper filters for steam cycles helps minimize dry times and reserves polypropylene filters for low temperature cycles, when polypropylene is in demand for wrap and PPE. Importantly, paper filters are sustainable.

If you’d like to prevent further disruption in your department, and reduce your dependence on sterilization wrap, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and break free. Inquire about our filter, seal, and load card special for increased savings via an automated delivery plan.

 

What you can't see can hurt you and your patients

 

Effective sterilization depends on...thorough cleaningCleaning is the critical first step that can make or break the efficacy of instrument reprocessing. Yet, we’re reminded again and again of the ways cleaning can go off the rails. Today we’re sharing a true story of the SPD, with a side-by-side comparison that demonstrates the concept of “Caveat emptor,” also known as “Let the buyer beware.”

The case of the murky detergent

One of our Case Medical Representatives recently visited a great sterile processing department to demonstrate the effectiveness of some SuperNova® Instrument Chemistries. Nothing beats a side-by-side comparison, so two sinks were filled with water and the proper amount of detergent for a soak test.

As the sinks began to fill, it was immediately apparent that the two products were not behaving the same way. The basin with SuperNova Detergent (below, left) was crystal clear, while the second basin (below, right) was filling with suds, rising up to 4 inches above the water level!

SuperNova 25 vs the Other Detergent

Reference the standard

Let the buyer beware warning signThe reason this foam is so concerning is three-fold.

  • First, we know that it’s dangerous to put your hands into a sink when you cannot see what your hands may come into contact with. There is risk of injury due to insufficient segregation of sharps.
  • Second, foam can cause problems with automatic washers and pump systems.
  • And third, excess foam can lead to residue if rinsing time is too short or if the water quality is below standard.

AAMI ST79 defines an ideal cleaning agent in section 7.6.3. The cleaning agent should

    1. Checklist with all items checkedbe compatible with the medical device or container system to be cleaned as well as with the materials used in the cleaning equipment itself;
    2. be efficacious on the types of clinical soil typically found on medical instruments after clinical use;
    3. be nonabrasive;
    4. be low-foaming;
    5. be free-rinsing (i.e., easily removed from the medical device);
    6. be biodegradable;
    7. rapidly dissolve/disperse soil;
    8. be nontoxic; and
    9. have a shelf life and use-life consistent with the anticipated clinical use.

 If the detergent in your SPD is not low-foaming, take a look at the longer definition of caveat emptor: it is the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.

 

Prevention is the best protection

Safety Data SheetsWhen assessing any chemical for use in your department, check it against the AAMI list of characteristics of an ideal cleaning agent. Review the SDS—get it from the vendor or track it down online—to understand the pH level and any risks to staff and the environment.

Our customers sometimes discover they’ve received incorrect information when depending on verbal assurances from sales reps. Sometimes cleaners cannot be released into the wastewater system. Other times, personnel in decontamination experience skin reactions or headaches triggered by harsh ingredients or unnecessary fragrances and dyes.

SuperNova DetergentIISaferChoice_DfE_RGB-1You can get rid of troublesome cleaners in your department. Utilize our line of SuperNova® instrument chemistries that are U.S. EPA Safer Choice labeled (no other instrument cleaning products can say that!) and possess all the characteristics of an ideal cleaning agent, per AAMI ST79. Contact us now for more information on our U.S. EPA Safer Choice labeled cleaners and lubricant, ideal for ideal for instrument processing and safer for you and your patients.

 

What to look for, what to avoid

 

While some would say that all instrument cleaners are more or less the same, in reality the products you choose can be as different as using a mallet or a brush to uncover ancient pottery. Formulating cleaners and detergents that are effective while maintaining the integrity of your surgical instruments and containers depends upon two things: 1) scientific understanding and 2) a commitment to using high quality, safer chemical ingredients.

When you evaluate the information on your detergent labels, consider the pros and cons of the elements discussed below.

Decoding: Enzymes

Enzymes break down targeted organic substances (proteins, fats, starches, etc.). They significantly decrease the activation energy required, while increasing the speed of chemical reactions. In some cases, enzymes can make a chemical reaction millions of times faster than it would have been without them. This is true of digestion in our bodies and instrument processing in our Sterile Processing Departments.

Enzyme Activity

Enzymes are highly effective, a natural, targeted component of certain cleaners. Often used for wastewater treatment, enzymes are safe for disposal into the wastewater system. Enzymes and surfactants do the heavy lifting of cleaning. As with all cleaning processes, correct machine settings and adequate rinse cycles also contribute to the best outcomes. (Want to learn more? Register for our CE webinar, "Enzymes and Their Actions.")

Decoding: Silicates

You may even find that your detergent contains silicates. What are silicates? Silicate minerals are rock-forming minerals and make up approximately 90 percent of Earth's Silicatecrust. These compounds are generally colorless transparent solids or white powders, and soluble in water in various amounts. Silicates, when added to detergents, have the effect of raising the alkalinity.

Silicates are often used in detergents, paper, water treatment, and construction materials and have abrasive qualities. If you observe discoloration (white-gray, yellowish brown, or bluish purple) on your instruments, it may be silicate deposits from insufficient rinsing or corrosion.

Decoding: Aluminum Friendly

pH Scale - NeutralDetergents labeled as “Aluminum Friendly” or "Aluminum Safe" are actually highly alkaline, caustic, and damaging to anodized aluminum containers and even your surgical devices. Alkaline detergents are found on the higher end of the pH scale, with water as neutral at 7, and lower values representing acidic substances.  While alkaline cleaners remove soil, they can create more problems than they solve.

In fact, some “aluminum friendly” detergents have a pH as high as 14. Highly alkaline cleaners can cause discoloration, corrosion, and material erosion, characterized by the presence of a white, powder-like coating on anodized aluminum and pitting and rusting on instruments. A simple demonstration using three solutions, pH levels 7.6, 11, and 14, demonstrates the effect of alkaline solutions on anodized aluminum coupons.

Alkaline solution showing damage to anodized aluminum coupons

At just three minutes, the sample exposed to a pH 14 solution shows corrosion (white area). After 14 hours of continuous exposure, the same coupon shows corrosion and metal flaking producing a black appearance, and the pH 11 solution is causing corrosion on the center coupon.

Caustic formulations also result in reduced use life for devices treated, requiring repair, refurbishing, or replacement. Most concerning, alkaline cleaners can cause severe skin burns and eye damage to the user.

Sorting through the messages

Woman with headacheAs with most decisions, choosing instrument chemistries requires sorting through conflicting messages from multiple sources. Do your research, call on people you trust, and learn the science so you can critically evaluate the messages Enzymes and Their Actions Register Nowyou hear. Your choices do matter. They matter to the personnel who have to use these chemicals in their daily work and to the patients whose bodies are susceptible to any retained residue or soil.

Case Medical is ready to help. Get in touch with your questions or request a comparison of our U.S. EPA Safer Choice instrument care and cleaning products versus the products you currently use. The results will be revealing.

 

SteriTite containers can relieve the pressure of the wrap shortage

 

The current sterilization wrap supply shortage is concerning for many health systems and facilities. Originally designed in the 1990s as an alternative to wrapped trays, SteriTite® containers are now, in 2021, very much a part of the solution. After a significant drop in non-emergent surgeries throughout 2020, the backlog of demand is expected to push 2021 surgical volume up by 28% compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels. This is no time for disruptions to the surgical schedule.

Fortunately, there are ways to strategically address this supply chain disruption while keeping the OR happy and productive. Check out these opportunities to containerize your highest priority instruments sets.

Where to start: Loaners

SteriTite Container Loaner Drop-inSome of the most challenging and wrap-intensive sets are those that walk through your front door 48 hours before a surgery—loaner sets. In particular, heavy ortho/spine sets use the largest volume of wrap and duplicate wrapped sets are common, as extra insurance against tears in wrap and surgical disruption. With more than half of instruments unused, just as a baseline, loaners are a perfect target to begin converting from wrap to rigid containers.

SteriTite Lid Filter Retention Plate Square-1SteriTite® containers are DIN sized and originally designed for loaners sets. Our product specialists have decades of experience solving problems by helping you select the right assortment of containers for loaners and other procedure trays. With lost-lasting, quality construction, rivetless case assembly, and offset filter retention plates to prevent strikethrough and cross contamination, SteriTite containers can eliminate the double work of processing two wrapped sets of loaner instruments and even provide quicker turns.

Convert high-turn sets

You know just the sets, the ones that, as soon as they enter decontam, are fast-tracked to make sure they’re ready for the next surgery. Convert those sets to containers to eliminate wrapping, save time, and make sure these critical instruments are protected and secured. In fact, SteriTite containers, when used with our paper filters in steam sterilization cycles, are cleared for minimum 5 to 8 minute dry times. It’s true! Here are the details.

Reduced Dry Time Claim for Pre-Vacuum Steam Sterilization:
5-8 minute dry timeSteriTite® containers previously cleared for terminal and IUSS (flash) steam sterilization may be used for storage and transport after steam sterilization with a reduced dry time. Dry loads will be achieved using a minimum of 5 minutes dry time when using perforated bottom units and a minimum of 8 minutes dry time when using solid bottom units.

Insurance policy

FlashTite ValveIn the spirit of being prepared, there is one more tip that you might find valuable. Did you know that we offer filter-less valves for steam sterilization cycles? FlashTite® Valve Plates are designed as an alternative option to the SteriTite filter assembly for IUSS steam sterilization. It’s smart and convenient to keep these on hand for those emergencies where IUSS is appropriate and wrap even less available.

We certainly hope that the wrap shortage is resolved soon without further disruption. We also hope that we’ve piqued your interest about the benefits of taking a staged approach to converting your surgical instrument sets to rigid reusable containers. I won’t even go monkey-152685_1280into the potential cost savings, the positive environmental effects, or the many other benefits, though you can read more if you like. Think about the security of having fewer items on your list of concerns each day. And say goodbye to the monkey and its wrench.

Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get started.

 

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