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Sterilization: Keeping It Spotless

A major undertaking: getting surgical instruments clean.

Summer 2012
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4 Major methods for sterilizing medical instruments: steam, gas plasma, ozone and ethylene oxide

10⁻⁶ Probability that organisms still survive on a device after it has been properly sterilized—in other words, one chance in a million

250, 270 In Fahrenheit, two common steam-sterilizing temperatures (depending on sterilizer type) that must be maintained for at least 30 minutes and
4 minutes, respectively, as directed by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention

1886 Year during which German surgeon Ernst von Bergmann introduced steam sterilization of surgical instruments and dressings

25 Maximum number of pounds of surgical tools (including the trays holding them) to be sterilized per load, as advised by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, to limit dense loads and heavy lifting by facility employees

140 Mirrors held in a precise orientation in the Solarclave, a solar-powered instrument used to sterilize equipment in developing-world clinics

1 U.S. states (New Jersey) that require hospital sterilization workers to undergo certification; most sterilization is performed in hospitals

2 Months in 2004 during which a contractor at Duke University Health System mistakenly rinsed surgical tools in mislabeled elevator hydraulic fluid; approximately 3,800 patients were treated with the contaminated tools

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