Updated: Mar 10, 2022
Beginning In the 1980s, sterilization containers began to replace reusable and disposable sterilization wrappers to contain sterile items in the United States. Rigid sterilization containers sales increased during 2020 & 2021 due to a shortage of sterilization wrappers. The design goal of a rigid sterilization container is to reduce event-related issues during the handling, transportation, and storage of sterile items. The number one event-related issue with hospital sterilized supplies is tears and holes in the sterilization wrappers. Rigid sterilization containers, however, have event-related issues too. You must complete some quality steps to make sure the items sterilized within the container remain safe.
Like many of the products we use in the Sterile Processing Department, rigid sterilization containers need regular maintenance. The gaskets wear out, rivets come loose, and damage occurs to the exterior shell and retention plates. Here are quality assurance checks that should occur after every use:
Lid and Base Units
Look for damage such as cracking, dents, pitting, and misalignment of parts
Look for damage or wear issues to the gaskets, such as cracking
Look for damage to the retention plates such as loose parts, misalignment, or bending
Look for cracking and/or dents
Look for the misalignment of sides, bottom, or handles
Look for loose or worn handles, parts, feet, accessories, or instrument organization system components
At any time, if the lid and based do not align, do not use the container.
A repeat inspection should occur at the point of use to ensure that the retention plate, filter, and locking mechanisms remain in place and function properly after sterilization, handling, and transportation.
Following the instruction for use for each container type and model is crucial. Mismatching lids and bases should not occur. Proper loading of mass metal weights for each size must be adhered to for proper sterilization to occur. If any of the above quality points are not met, remove the sterilization container from use and set it aside for maintenance.
At Evolved Sterile Processing, our consultants have a greater focus on sterile processing. With our decades of experience, we will help you develop better processes and educational resources for your staff.