The medical field revolves around patients, and one of the most important responsibilities in caring for them involves absolutely no interaction with the patients at all; it’s called sterile processing.
Sterile processing technologists spend their days in hospital basements ensuring that patients do not contract infections, get sick or even die from dangerous microorganisms.
Think of it as an assembly line. After surgery, used instruments are transported to the sterile processing center where there are three areas: decontamination, packaging and sterilization.
The dirty instruments begin their time in sterile processing at the decontamination station where they are rinsed off and any debris from the instruments is removed. It’s a little bit like washing the dishes.
Once the instruments are thoroughly rinsed, they’re off to the packaging station. The technologists will then wrap tools and trays in a medical wrap and secure the package with color-changing tape. If it’s a bigger job, the tools will be placed in a metal case that is locked and secured with a color-changing plastic lock.
When this process is complete, the packages, cases or racks of cases are placed in the sterilizer. Sterilizers range in size depending on the institution… they can be as small as microwaves or large enough to fit three grown men, like this one.
After this final step, sterile processing technicians check the locks or tape to confirm that the items have been properly sterilized.
At this point, the instruments are sterile and ready for surgery. If this job is done incorrectly, microorganisms can become prevalent during surgery – this may cause the patient to get sick, contract an infection or die.
The sterile processing department is often referred to as the ‘heart of the hospital,’ and for good reason. Without sterile processing technologists executing their duties correctly, patients would face potentially fatal dangers.
Stautzenberger College recognizes this and the importance of the professionals behind the scenes. The central sterile processing diploma program is just ten months long and provides multiple opportunities for learning hands-on both in the classroom and in the field.
To schedule a tour of the sterile processing laboratory and to speak with the program director about specifics, please reach out to Stautzenberger College in Brecksville at 440-838-1999
Author: Kelsey Cullen, Community Outreach Coordinator
Kelsey Cullen has been gaining public relations, advertising and marketing experience in the Cleveland-Akron area since 2010. Cullen joined Stautzenberger College as a Community Outreach Coordinator in January 2016. She wears many hats at the school; including admissions, event planning, social media producing and guest speaking in high schools. Cullen is currently engaged to Kevin Kelsey (no that is not a typo) and is an admitted crazy cat mom to Rorschach and Crash.