Corporate Information

HSDU Decontamination Cycle

The quality of all re-usable devices processed within both departments is managed and controlled by both International and European Standards. Each stage of the reprocessing life cycle is monitored and audited with any resulting actions taken which enables us to provide decontamination, inspection, and packaging, of surgical equipment, theatre trays and procedure packs. It also covers stocking of pre-sterile hollow ware. These standards ensure that any re-usable medical devices processed by us are fit for purpose and decontaminated and sterilised to the highest standards for the benefit of the patient experience.

Decontamination LifeCycle

Full tracking and trace ability of surgical instrumentation is provided by the Health Edge track & Trace computerised system which offers a full audit trail and ‘peace of mind’ that each process is followed correctly and according to international standards

Want to read about the decontamination cycle at the Countess? Take a look below to see how we do it. 

1. Manual Check and Count  

Staff in HSDU will manually scan all items of equipment which have been collected or returned to the wash area from theatres and outpatients. Medical devices are inspected and checked against the checklist to ensure that all the instrumentation is present and serviceable - should a piece of equipment be missing, staff will immediately alert theatre/outpatient department. Instruments in need of repair will complete the whole decontamination cycle issued with a decontamination certificate. 

2. Ultrasonic Process 

An ultrasonic machine is a stand-alone ultrasonic bath intended for use as a pre-cleaning process before final cleaning and disinfection in a washer disinfector for surgical instruments. Ultrasonic cleaners are used to process jointed, cannulated and serrated stainless steel instruments, it cleans by subjecting the load to a high intensity of high frequency sound waves, which causes cavitation at the surface, loosening the soil. Before the instrument is released for further processing or use, it will be inspected for cleanliness. 

3. Wash Stages 

Following manufacturer guidelines the medical device is subject to a two stage wash process which includes a Pre Wash and a Main Wash. The Pre Wash removes gross contamination. During this stage the water must not exceed 35°C. This maximum temperature is necessary to minimise the coagulation of protein and consequent fixing of soil. The main wash will remove any remaining soil. It must be at an optimum temperature for the detergent to work. Following the wash stages the equipment is rinsed to remove any additives used during the cleaning process. 

4. Thermal Disinfection 

R.O (Reverse Osmosis) water is used in the final rinse stage. The temperature in the washer disinfector is raised to 90-95°C to reach thermal disinfection. This temperature will be held for one minute to eliminate or reduce harmful micro-organisms.    

Drying machine

5. Drying Stage

The chamber will be filled with heated air to remove residual moisture. Wet medical devices would be non-conformed back to the wash area for reprocessing. 







6. Inspection & Quality Control Inspection stage

All items are then re-inspected and the quality of the cleaning process is checked to ensure it reaches the correct standard. Equipment is inspected for cleanliness and function before packing in a Class 8 Clean Room environment.  One Step, Quick Step is used to wrap the medical devices comprising of two sheets. This allows for conveniently wrapping with two sheets simultaneously. In accordance with standard hospital practices and allows sterilized medical device to be opened aseptically. 






7. Steam Sterilisation

Medical devices are exposed to saturated steam at high temperature (134°C to 137°C) A simple and effective decontamination method used to kill all micro-organisms including spores. The device exposure time to steam is 3 minutes. 

8. Vacuum Packed 

Vacuum pack

VacioPak is a vacuum storage and transport system that helps protect the integrity of medical devices. This helps to avoid cancellations and damage to instrumentation.