A recent decontamination seminar held at Eastwood Park in conjunction with IHEEM saw eminent speakers including 3M Development Scientist, Dr Brian Kirk (pictured addressing delegates), and Science and Technical director at STERIS Corporation, Richard Bancroft, discuss the application of chemical and biological process indicators and low temperature sterilisation processes.
The aim was to give delegates a better understanding of these processes’ role, and enable more informed decisions on their use. Eastwood Park said: “Both speakers are key figures in writing, developing, and monitoring, national, European, and international standards as members of BSI, CEN, and ISO committees responsible for developing standards for chemical and biological sterilisation indicators and steam and ethylene oxide sterilisation processes.”
Moist heat/steam sterilisation cycles – used for sterilisation of 90% of all sterile surgical instrument sets – are most commonly measured using parametric assessment methods. Low temperature sterilisation processes – required for sterilisation of a number of reusable medical devices – require other assessment methods, including chemical and biological indicators.
The day included a look at the history of chemical indicators, and at the technical performance of the Bowie Dick test and its relationship to the small load
thermometric test as described in EN 285. The seminar addressed the benefits of chemical indicators in specific aspects of sterilisation monitoring, and how a concerted monitoring approach utilising biological and chemical indicators, and physical parameter monitoring, can be considered best practice.
While external contractors frequently conduct sterilisation of reusable medical devices, it is the medical device owner’s responsibility to ensure sterilisation processes are effective and safe, and that instruments are fit for use. The speakers addressed the three major low temperature processes used for ‘inhouse’ sterilisation – ethylene oxide, low temperature steam with formaldehyde, and vapour phase hydrogen peroxide sterilisation, and considered the process characteristics, process development, validation, and routine monitoring, before concluding with an introduction to irradiation sterilisation.