AAMI’s ST79:2017 is full of standards and practices geared toward helping users make good decisions regarding the processing of a medical device or system. But there isn’t much mentioned about instrument protectors or products used inside a sterile barrier.
With the ultimate goal of protecting the instrument and the sterile barrier, our team recommends the following short list of Best Practices to help your team achieve its performance goals:
1. Choose an instrument protector that prevents strike through yet allows for maximum exposure of the sterilant with the instrument being sterilized. The instrument should not come into contact with the impervious plastic laminate used in paper-plastic pouches. This contact may prevent the sterilant from reaching the instrument.
2. The use of paper-plastic pouches with heavy metal instruments could result in problems with sterility maintenance. Use instrument protectors that offer added structure/strength to accommodate the instrument being held. This minimizes movement within the pouch and makes the pack easier to handle and transport without creasing or crushing.
3. Avoid using tip protectors that prevent sterilant contact with the surface of an instrument (rubber/plastic) or create another pseudo layer that may prohibit penetration of the sterilant (sleeve style). This may result in inadequate sterilant contact, air removal and drying.
4. Choose an instrument protector that holds hinged instruments completely open and stays open during and after sterilization.
The ultimate goal is to get an instrument sterilized and to prevent its contamination until it reaches the sterile field.