From the August 2011 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Steam sterilizing gets pretty warm. To be properly sterilized, medical equipment must spend at least 15 minutes at 121 °C (250 °F) or three minutes at 134 °C (273 °F). But these temperatures take their toll on the machines, notes Jedrix Aquino, communications manager for Advanced Sterilization Products. Exposure to that kind of heat can lead to corrosion of more delicate instrumentation. Dennington explains that low-heat sterilizers represent about 30 percent of the market; traditional steam, which is less expensive, leads the way with 70 percent of sales.
Crane Creek Surgery Center purchased an ASP low-temperature sterilizer. “We wanted something that was safe, effective, and very time-oriented — something they could use for all the equipment,” says Boyd.
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Low temperature sterilizers typically use vaporized hydrogen peroxide to sterilize instruments and medical devices. “This lengthens the life of the instruments, it doesn’t interfere with the metal as much,” says Boyd. “I can tell just by looking at the instruments.”
Another major benefit of the new sterilizer is speed. “We used to have to do multiple loads of equipment,” says Boyd. “But now, we can [sterilize] an entire tray.” And that ability has cut the turnover time from 40 or 45 minutes to a mere 28 minutes. “That’s really helpful because sometimes doctors don’t have many sets of equipment,” says Boyd. “It has definitely increased productivity.”
ASP sent a nurse to train staff at the center in using the equipment, which helped tremendously, according to Boyd.
“It’s clean and easy to use – it’s exceeding our expectations,” says Boyd. “From a nurse’s perspective, it’s a very functional device.”
A comeback in the fight against infection
While some cutbacks are inevitable in these economic times, GIA predicts as the economy recovers, hospitals will look at upgrading and replacing their sterilization equipment. The firm anticipates that the rise in surgical procedures will cast the spotlight on sterilization. In addition, our growing awareness of health care-associated infections will likely have a similar effect.
“Sterilizers aren’t optional for hospitals,” explains Dennington. “Hospitals have to have sterilizers. If the economy shifts, that can cause sales to fall off for a while, but they’ll rebound in time.” Dennington isn’t worried about losing business due to the recession. “In the long run, you still sell X number of sterilizers in X period of time.”