Journal Article

Disinfection and Sterilization in Health Care Facilities: What Clinicians Need to Know

William A. Rutala and David J. Weber

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 39, issue 5, pages 702-709
Published in print September 2004 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online September 2004 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/423182
Disinfection and Sterilization in Health Care Facilities: What Clinicians Need to Know

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All invasive procedures involve contact between a medical device or surgical instrument and a patient's sterile tissue or mucous membranes. A major risk of all such procedures is the introduction of pathogenic microbes that could lead to infection. Failure to properly disinfect or sterilize reusable medical equipment carries a risk associated with breach of the host barriers. The level of disinfection or sterilization is dependent on the intended use of the object: critical items (such as surgical instruments, which contact sterile tissue), semicritical items (such as endoscopes, which contact mucous membranes), and noncritical items (such as stethoscopes, which contact only intact skin) require sterilization, high-level disinfection, and low-level disinfection, respectively. Cleaning must always precede high-level disinfection and sterilization. Users must consider the advantages and disadvantages of specific methods when choosing a disinfection or sterilization process. Adherence to these recommendations should improve disinfection and sterilization practices in health care facilities, thereby reducing infections associated with contaminated patient-care items.

Journal Article.  4262 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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