Skip links and keyboard navigation

Diseases and infection prevention

Disinfection and Sterilization Infection Control Guidelines

Table of Contents

 

 Section 1  Overview
 Section 2  Cleaning & Packaging
 Section 3  Sterilization
 Section 4  Quality Management
 Section 5  Thermal & Chemical Disinfection
   Appendices
   References
   Consolidated Document (large file warning)

 

These resources are currently under review against the Australian/New Zealand Standard 4187: 2014 Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sterilizing reusable medical and surgical instruments and equipment, and associated environments in health care facilities which was updated and re-published in December 2014.

Existing sterilizing services have two years to conform to the updated Standards, however, new or refurbished sterilizing services must comply with the 2014 Standards.

Reprocessing of Reusable Medical Devices

Reprocessing of reusable medical devices (RMDs) is a multi-step process. Dependent upon type and purpose of the RMD it may include cleaning, disinfection, inspection, assembly, testing, packaging and sterilization and appropriate storage. Sterilization and reprocessing of reusable medical devices minimises the risk of transmission of infection from patient to patient. It is estimated the excess length of stay due to a surgical site infection is between 3.5 and 23 hospital bed days, depending on the type of infection.

Effective reprocessing of reusable medical devices is important in preventing healthcare associated infections. In all healthcare settings, reusable instruments and equipment should be handled in a manner that will prevent patient, healthcare worker and environmental contact with potentially infectious material.

Medical devices can be classified (using the Spaulding classification system) according to use. The Spaulding classification system determines the level of reprocessing required. Please refer to Table 1

Table 1

Spaulding classification      Device use Reprocessing required
Critical Items that will enter a sterile body site Sterilisation
Semi-critical Items that will make contact with mucous membranes or non-intact skin      High level disinfection
Non-critical Items that make contact with intact skin only Thorough cleaning with detergent and water

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (Criterion: Cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation) requires that the reprocessing of equipment and instrumentation meets current best practice guidelines.

Queensland Health has developed a range of resources to assist sterilising services staff perform their duties safely, efficiently and in accordance with The National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare, the Australian/New Zealand Standard 4187: 2003 Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sterilizing reusable medical and surgical instruments and equipment, and associated environments in health care facilities and the Australian/New Zealand Standard 4815:2006 Office-based health care facilities—Reprocessing of reusable medical and surgical instruments and equipment, and maintenance of the associated environment. Facilities must be aware of which Standard applies to their service and to ensure that staff have access to it. All health service organisations or facilities that choose to reprocess RMDs must comply with the relevant Standards.

Please note: The Australian/New Zealand Standard 4187: 2014 Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sterilizing reusable medical and surgical instruments and equipment, and associated environments in health care facilities was updated and re-published in December 2014. The sterilizing resources available on the Queensland Health website are currently under review against the updated Standard. Existing sterilizing services have two years to conform to the updated Standards, however, new or refurbished sterilizing services must comply with the 2014 Standards.


Last Updated: 25 December 2016
Last Reviewed: 25 January 2016