Cleaning is the process of removing foreign bodies from objects and is normally accomplished using water with detergents or enzymatic products. In the healthcare industry, automatic cleaning process is accomplished by washer disinfectors. Washer disinfectors are designed to wash and disinfect specific medical utensils, surgical instruments and other healthcare equipment.
Washer disinfectors are used in healthcare industry to either prepare goods for future sterilization, to remove residues from surgical products, or to disinfect goods for later use. Surgical instruments should be presoaked or rinsed with water, to prevent drying of blood and to remove blood from the instruments. After a complete washer disinfection cycle, the instruments can be inspected, placed in sealed sterilization pouches or wraps for autoclaving process. In-depth cleaning of instruments is required before disinfection and sterilization because dried materials, organic or inorganic, that remain on the surfaces of instruments hamper the effectiveness of these processes.
The four major factors to consider while selecting the apt washer disinfector for your facility are as follows:
- Number of beds in the hospital (i.e. capacity)
The rack decides the chamber capacity of the washer disinfector and can have a significant impact of the cleaning ability of the machine itself. Within every rack is a retained internal volume of up to 5L depending on the design of the machine. An optimum number of racks will help to further reduce the volume of water required per phase and hence also reduce the energy and detergent consumed. Having a greater capacity per rack enables more trays to be process per load. This in turn can reduce the number of times a washer needs to run during the day thereby improving efficiencies and lowering costs across the board.
2. Water consumption per sterilization cycle
The three reasons a washer disinfector consumes water – rinse with water, wash with detergent and water and disinfect with water. With depleting resources and increasing reliability on them. It is important to leave our resources for the future generations. That our sterilizer does not utilize the greatest volume of water per cycle consumed during sterilization process.
3. Energy consumption per sterilization cycle
The washer-disinfectors may be equipped with two heating systems, steam and electrical, for optimal reliability, manual or automatic switching between both systems may be performed at any time. This provides backup to minimize any bottlenecks when the steam supply goes down. The machine should have minimum energy consumption. When the machine is idle, the washer-disinfector can be programmed to switch off and only come back on when needed, to further save energy.
4. Time per sterilization cycle
Washer disinfectors are required to frequently heat water to near boiling point in order to achieve thermal disinfection within the stipulated time period. The time is a critical factor because all the microorganisms do not die off at the same time, thus increasing the cycle time. This minimum exposure time is the least required time for a complete washing cycle. At the end of the cycle, time is required to heat the air used to dry the load and contributing to the time cycle of the washer disinfector. In today’s fast-moving world, it is necessary to have short sterilization cycles as this will improve the turnaround time for the medical equipment which will result in less hospital inventory thus decreasing the space requirement in the hospital.
With a washer disinfector, the instruments are washed and disinfected properly with every cycle. Over an average hour-long cycle (although with advanced technology, machines can perform an entire cycle in about 35 minutes), the machine automatically changes phases from flushing and washing to rinsing, disinfecting and drying. Automatic washer disinfectors ensure minimal human contact with contaminated instruments means staff is protected from the risk of sharps injuries and eye splash incidents due to manual cleaning and rinsing. At the end of each cycle, all the instruments have been flushed of resistant contaminants such as blood, tissues and bone fragments. Medical instruments are also washed with detergents that preserve instruments against degradation and disinfected thermally in water at temperatures of approximately 80-90 degrees Celsius. All of this, with negligible time or labor from your staff – so they are better able to focus on offering the highest level of care to your patients.
The effectiveness of high-level disinfection and sterilization mandates effective cleaning, patient safety and minimizes hospital acquired infection.