Critical Patient-care Items

During the course of their intended use, critical items penetrate soft and hard sterile tissues or the vascular system and confer a high degree of risk for infection if contaminated with pathogens.2-4 In oral healthcare settings critical items such as surgical instruments, periodontal scalers, scalpel blades, burs, and explorers present the greatest risk of transmitting infection. Heat-tolerant critical items must be sterilized by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared heat sterilizer.2,3 Heat-sensitive critical items may be sterilized by a low-temperature sterilization process or by an FDA-registered chemical sterilant.2,3,5