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Sterilization and Disinfection of Patient-Care Items in Oral Healthcare Settings

Course Number: 474

Processing Contaminated Reusable Patient-care Items

The recycling of instruments and other devices requires adequate space, specialized equipment, and qualified personnel. Correct transport, cleaning, packaging, sterilizer loading procedures, and sterilization or disinfection methods should be followed to ensure that patient-care items are adequately processed and safe for reuse on patients. OHCP should be provided ongoing training and the recycling processes should be monitored regularly (see Quality Assurance).

There should be a central processing area (CPA) of adequate size with four successive stations for (1) receiving and cleaning; (2) preparation and packaging; (3) sterilization or disinfection; and (4) storage of sterilized units (e.g., individual packs, peel pouches, containers, etc).2,3 Each station should be physically separated to control traffic flow and to contain contaminants during the process. If physical separation is not practical, spatial separation might be satisfactory.