See how hospitals clean medical devices

They are the tools of the trade, used to treat, screen and operate on patients. And many can be re-used, meaning these instruments have to undergo strict and standardized cleaning in Sunnybrook’s Reprocessing Centre. We are up to about 375,000 pieces a year, and I think every layman should know what’s being used on them on them or on their family members. Abdool Karim is the manager here and says instruments go through several important steps before coming into contact with a patient. DIrty instruments are first brought down to the reprocessing decontamination area where they are soaked in a specialized solution that breaks away blood, body fluids and other contaminants. Minutes later, instruments are placed on carts and pushed into these state of the art decontaminators called Turbo 88s. They may look like dishwashers, but they have serious kick. It is about ten times higher pressure than your car wash. The Turbos whip hot water into a tornado-like effect, while spraying instruments with powerful cleaning solutions so potent no bacteria or virus can survive. Sunnybrook was the first hospital in North America to use the Turbo 88, now the gold standard for reprocessing medical equipment. About 45 minutes later, the Turbo is done. It’s all automatic. There will have an airglide system that comes by picks up that tray, deposits it on a carosel and then the staff takes it out and redistributes it. The instruments are clean and well lubricated and safe to handle. Staff check each piece and then organize it onto trays to fit the needs of the user. That makes finding a scalpel in surgery a piece of cake. Once packaged, instruments are pushed into these industrial steamers for final sterilization. So how hot does it get in there? It would incinerate a chicken. The most widely used instrument at Sunnybrook is this one. Called the bookwalter retractor, this clamp opens up the abdomen to give surgeons easy access. Despite rigorous and frequent cleanings, into the hundreds of times, Karim says most instruments will last for years. And thanks to evolving medical advances and surgical techniques, Karim says no two days are ever alike. We’re constantly having to stay abreast with what’s going on in the industry. Very dynamic field. With Sunnyview, i’m Monica Matys.

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