Surgical instrument care

8 useful tips for surgical instrument care

High quality surgical instruments can be an amazing investment. Offering exceptional performance and durability, some studies have shown such instruments can last for well over 30 years.(1)

However, even the finest surgical instruments will only last if they are carefully handled, properly maintained and professionally serviced. Follow these 10 tips to help ensure your instruments last for as long as possible:

1.      Use as intended

Never use a surgical instrument for anything other than the purpose for which it was designed. By misusing instruments, you can cause irreversible damage by stressing the parts and damaging the surface.

2.      Handle with care

Poor handling of surgical instruments is a sure-fire way to damage them, so don’t start throwing them around or leaving them in unsuitable conditions. If you do, you may quickly find that your instruments suffer fractures or become contaminated and corroded.

3.      Avoid dried residue

Clean used instruments quickly to avoid any residue drying onto the surface. This is because, blood and other secretions can cause discolouration and corrosion.

4.      Avoid leaving wet

Once cleaned, make sure the instruments are dried properly. Instruments left in liquid cause a galvanic current that can lead to galvanic corrosion.

5.      Avoid mechanical stress

Don’t stress an instrument beyond its capabilities as this can lead to misalignment of instrument parts. It can also cause tension or stress corrosion: the spontaneous cracking of instrument parts subject to high tensile pressure, such as screws and welded sections.

6.      Stick to process

Make sure that routines in the Central Sterilisation Department are strictly followed. This includes ensuring that instruments are cleaned at the correct temperature, using the correct detergent and that they are stacked and dried correctly.

7.      Clean as advised

Always adhere to manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and sterilisation. In particular, it is important to stick to dosage and duration guidelines for the detergent you are using.

8.      Avoid poor servicing

Always use a certified repair facility, as inexpert servicing can ruin valuable instruments. By having your surgical instruments professionally inspected, refurbished and realigned, you can help ensure that they are restored to top condition.

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(1)   Dahl G, Ölveback T, Wiklung L. Quality surgical instruments best investment. Presented: SEORNA, Swedish Operating Nurse Association Conference Meeting, 29-30 November 2012