Reprocessing ophthalmic surgical instruments is one of the most important aspects of your practice. There’s also the care of duty that you have to your practice, yourself, your patients, and those individuals that deal with you in ancillary nature. The sterilization process doesn’t start and end with actual sterilizing. Here’s the process for ophthalmic instruments in brief.
1. Manual Cleaning
Sterilization cannot take place if there is bioburden on the instrument. Manually cleaning with instrument wipes, water, and a soft brush will get the process started correctly. You also need to disassemble instruments and keep them submerged until the next step.
2. Ultrasonic Cleaning
Ultrasonic cleaning is a continuation of the cleaning process. Through the process of cavitation, ultrasonic cleaning can remove microscopic debris from your instruments. It’s a mechanical process that uses sound waves and an ultrasonic solution to produce the cavitation effect. After the cleaning, the instruments need rinsing and drying.
Once the cleaning process is complete, the instruments undergo a magnified inspection. This inspection is a check for remaining debris and possible damage. If there is debris, then the instrument must go through the cleaning process again.
Lubrication isn’t always necessary. However, many instruments have hinges or other flexible parts. If these parts show signs of stiffness, then they will need some lubrication. The lubrication has to stand up to the sterilization process afterward, but any excess lubrication needs removal.
As you can see, a lot occurs before you ever reach the actual sterilization phase. This is also the part of the process most are familiar with. Using a steam autoclave set at the right cycle is all there is to it, in most cases.
You need sterile storage solutions that eliminate the possibility of contamination. In addition, they need to accommodate sets of instruments. Storage solutions are unique to the practice. Your needs will dictate what kind of storage solution is best for you and your practice.
Handling is an adjunct of storage. Once you find a good storage medium, you have to store the instruments until they’re ready for use.
Depending on the nature of the practice, more steps may become necessary. There are many considerations for each step that go beyond what’s listed here.