Sterilising surgical equipment is one of the key ways of preventing healthcare-acquired infections and thus keeping patients safe. To prevent delaying or even cancelling operations related to instrument reprocessing, hospitals can use new-generation sterilisation systems that enable them to reprocess instruments quickly and efficiently, meeting high OR demands. Dr Angelo Boumis knows these challenges first-hand. As a medical director at ICOT Hospital, part of Giomi group, one of Italy's leading private medical companies, he is used to cleaning equipment quickly for upcoming operations.
"People working in a very stressful environment - like ours - must work quickly to take care of the [sterilisation] process safely," he says.
Fortunately, there are plenty of systems available to make all this easier. One of the most advanced is the STERRAD family of products, manufactured by Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP), a Johnson & Johnson company.
Dr Loredana Del Prete and Dr Eleonora Sabellico, CSSD coordinators at the ICOT Hospital, speak from their own experience. "STERRAD gave us the opportunity to have a rapid turnaround in reprocessing medical devices," they explain. "We started with one STERRAD NX [machine], then we placed it side by side with a STERRAD 100S. They kept the department running smoothly. Then last year, we replaced both with the new STERRAD 100NX with ALLClear technology, which has dramatically reduced the number of cycles aborted."
The STERRAD 100NX ALLClear automatically detects and removes moisture before the start of the sterilisation cycle, minimising the possibility for a cycle interruption. It offers four different cycles, none lasting longer than an hour. Each cycle is suitable for different devices. For example, the 24-minute 'express cycle' can be used for fast turnaround of endoscopes, while the 42-minute 'flex cycle' is appropriate for single-channel flexible endoscopes. Its functionality is further streamlined by the machine's simple touchscreen. "We love the new user-friendly software interface that helps us in case of doubt or when we have a new operator to train," say Del Prete and Sabellico.
Further complementing the work of the sterilisers, the sterilisation department at ICOT Hospital also uses ASP's smart biological indicator (BI) technology, STERRAD Velocity. With its intuitive design and full integration with all STERRAD features, STERRAD Velocity BI reader uses opticalfluorescence technology to detect biological activity within 30 minutes and provides users with a result, without the need for a visual assessment, improving safety. This "gives operators peace of mind, as there is [close to] zero human error risk", Boumis says.
"Our [current] procedure is to test BIs once a day, to balance process safety and operational cost," he explains. "We might increase the frequency in future." But for the moment, Boumis says he is quite happy with how things are going.
"Quick BI results are not only beneficial for a 'just-in-time' load release, they are also useful when we need to run a BI test before reusing STERRAD after major maintenance or an electrical shutdown. Fast recovery is crucial when you perform more than ten cycles a day," Del Prete and Sabellico say. "Theoretically, using BIs in every cycle would be the best choice, due to the quick results."
Audit-readiness in real time is another advantage of ASP products STERRAD System, VELOCITY and ACCESS, collectively known as Ecosystem. Once the sterilisation cycle is finished and the BI result is ready, ASP ACCESS smart information-sharing technology seamlessly correlates cycle results with the BI results and saves them automatically, keeping the hospital compliant at all times. Any user can access the data, even remotely.
"The alerts coming from ASP ACCESS via SMS or emails when a cycle is completed, or in case of a cancellation or a BI positive result, really helps and gives confidence that everything is under our control. BI reminders give us the chance to be compliant with our procedures at every stage of the process," Del Prete and Sabellico say.
"If I had to choose three words to define Ecosystem, I would say 'safety' three times, for the process, results and operators," Boumis says. With praise like this, Italian patients can feel safe in hospital.