Author: Censis Education
Do you use rigid containers for sterilization?
Patient safety is always the highest concern when determining which tools and protocols to put in place to ensure effective sterilization of assets.
While some facilities use blue wrap and tape, others use rigid containers to transport sterilized assets. If you’ve resisted using rigid containers because you’re afraid that they won’t be as sterile as your blue wrap or that you won’t be able to afford to make the switch, we’re here to set the record straight.
But before we do, let’s back up and look at how the AAMI defines a rigid sterilization container.
What Is a Rigid Sterilization Container?
The AAMI says that a rigid container for sterilization is a “sterilization containment device designed to hold medical devices for sterilization, storage, transportation, and aseptic presentation of contents. They are valuable tools in sterility maintenance and to prevent damage to surgical instruments and devices.”
If you’re considering using rigid sterilization containers for the first time, here are a few benefits you can gain from the switch:
Rigid Containers Protect Your Assets
An asset delivered in a rigid container has a much higher chance of surviving being dropped on the way there than one that’s sent to the OR packaged in blue wrap. If the blue wrap rips in the fall, assets must be sent back to the SPD to be sterilized and re-wrapped. Delivering your assets in rigid containers could cut down your need for expensive asset repairs, and at the same time, protect your SPD schedule from getting overrun or backed up with items that need to be re-sterilized because of a mishap.
Using Containers Saves Long-Term Costs
Seeing the upfront cost of rigid containers can spark the feeling of sticker shock—but consider the long-term cost of blue wrap and tape. Calculate how much you use in a given day or week, and then figure out your yearly cost. The one-time cost of outfitting your SPD with rigid containers could lead to significant long-term cost savings.
Containers Reduce Your Environmental Impact
For high-volume hospitals, environmental impact is especially important. More and more people are calling for organizations to be held responsible for their contributions to negative environmental impacts, and this is one way you can cut back. Trading in endless wrap and tape for reusable rigid containers is an easy way to cut down on the amount of waste that your hospital produces and show your patients that you take your environmental impact seriously.
When properly used, maintained, and sterilized, rigid containers can be a great way to serve patients while cutting long-term costs.
If you’re still unsure of the effectiveness of rigid containers, the bottom line is this: both blue wrap and rigid containers can be misused and end up contributing to the spread of bacteria or worse. For a refresher on proper protocol for rigid containers, check out our recent post, “6 Steps to Effectively Use Rigid Sterilization Containers.”
ANSI/AAMI ST79:2017. Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI)
Performance Management & Quality Improvement. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/performance/index.html
Performance Management: Turning Point. Public Health Foundation. http://www.phf.org/programs/turningpoint/Pages/Turning_Point_Performance_Management_Refresh.aspx
Process. A Publication of the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management. May/June 2020. www.iahcsmm,org
Quality Audit – A Tool for Continuous Improvement and Compliance. https://www.mastercontrol.com/gxp-lifeline/quality_audit_tool_compliance_0810/
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