The Low Temperature Option
Mention budgets and cost cutting and most healthcare professionals will inwardly groan. It probably seems to many people in the sector – especially those with long memories – that financial pressures have been with us since time immemorial. Unfortunately, and without wishing to add to the general despondency around this subject, the situation is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future.
Even advances in technology, although bringing benefits for clinicians and patients alike, can present fresh challenges if investment in new equipment, staff training or facilities is required, but cannot be adequately funded.
These devices, however, require specialised handling as they are generally constructed from lightweight composite or flexible materials and often incorporate sensitive electronic components.
There is, therefore, a growing risk if sterilisation has to be compromised or if the use of advanced medical devices has to be curtailed because they cannot be reliably reprocessed, due to cost constraints or lack of skilled staff. Until recently, this issue has been exacerbated by the limited options available.
The frequently used alternative to high temperature steam sterilisation is manual cleaning with warm water and detergent, followed by disinfection using chlorine dioxide or chlorhexidine wipes. In some instances, disinfection at low temperatures using chemicals or a washer-disinfector may also be used.
A new and perhaps more viable option for many hospitals is to partner with a specialised outsourced provider, which has the dedicated facilities and levels of investment capable of delivering a fast and cost effective low temperature sterilisation service. IHSS, for example, uses the latest hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) technology, which has been developed specifically for sterilising advanced medical devices, such as ureteroscopes, choledochoscopes, intubation endoscopes and the Endoeye Flex 3D videoscope.
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