What are the nurses responsibilities during disinfection and sterilization?

Answered by Edward Huber

During the process of disinfection and sterilization, nurses have several important responsibilities to ensure that all instruments and equipment used during surgical operations or deliveries are clean and safe for use. These responsibilities include cleaning and preparing instruments, ensuring that all surfaces are exposed to the appropriate sterilization method, and organizing sterile drapes and dressings.

To begin with, the nurse must carefully clean all instruments before the sterilization process. This involves using appropriate cleaning agents and techniques to remove any visible debris or contamination from the instruments. It is crucial for the nurse to pay attention to detail and thoroughly clean all surfaces of the instruments to ensure effective sterilization. This step is vital in preventing the transmission of infections and maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room.

Once the instruments are cleaned, the nurse must ensure that they are properly prepared for sterilization. Depending on the healthcare facility’s protocols and available resources, the nurse may use either an autoclave or a hot air oven for sterilization. The nurse should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for the specific sterilization method being used. This includes ensuring that all instruments are arranged in a way that allows for adequate exposure to the sterilizing agent, such as steam or hot air.

In addition to instrument sterilization, the nurse is responsible for ensuring that all necessary sterile drapes and dressings are prepared and readily available for use during the surgical procedure or delivery. Sterile drapes are used to create a sterile field around the operative site, helping to prevent contamination during the procedure. Dressings, on the other hand, are used to cover wounds and promote healing while preventing infection. The nurse should ensure that these items are properly stored and handled to maintain their sterility.

To effectively fulfill these responsibilities, nurses must have a thorough understanding of infection control principles and protocols. They should be knowledgeable about the different methods of sterilization and be able to follow established guidelines and procedures. It is also essential for nurses to have good organizational skills and attention to detail to ensure that all instruments, drapes, and dressings are correctly prepared and readily available when needed.

Personal experience: In my time working as a nurse, I have encountered various situations where the proper disinfection and sterilization of instruments were crucial. One particular experience that stands out was during a complicated surgical procedure. As the circulating nurse, it was my responsibility to ensure that all instruments were thoroughly cleaned and prepared for sterilization. I meticulously inspected each instrument, ensuring that all surfaces were free of debris and contamination. I then arranged them in the autoclave according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring proper exposure to the sterilizing agent. Additionally, I organized the sterile drapes and dressings, making sure they were readily available for the surgical team. This experience highlighted the importance of my role in preventing the transmission of infections and maintaining a sterile environment for patient safety.