Cleaning Disinfection and Sterilization of Instruments
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The process of cleaning, disinfection and/or sterilization of surgical instruments after a surgical procedure is critical in preventing the transmission of infection to both the patient and operating room (OR) personnel. Cleaning is understood to be a process whereby physical and/or chemical methods are used to remove debris and microorganisms from the surface of surgical instruments. Disinfection and sterilization are processes whereby microorganisms are killed in order to prevent contamination. The former kills infectious organisms only while the latter kills all microorganisms. All instruments used to perform actions that intentionally or unintentionally result in the skin or a mucosal barrier being breached should be sterilized. For instruments used for diagnostic purposes, such as endoscopy, disinfection alone is sufficient. In this course the entire cycle of cleaning, disinfection and sterilization of an instrument will be briefly discussed.