What Are the Risks of Traditional Sterilization Practices?

Staff members running a medical facility will always have to manage general disinfectants. A practice needs to be clean and safe to operate, and routine sterilization is typically an important part of a properly functioning medical office; however, there are certain risks associated with chemical sterilization practices. In gynecological offices, excess chemicals are present through the disinfecting of reusable speculums and reusable batteries.

Direct Risk to Staff Safety

Your medical staff members are the people who have direct contact with sterilization chemicals, like Ethylene Oxide. This flammable, colorless gas is used to sterilize reusable medical devices in bulk. If staff members are using this substance to sterilize reusable speculums or batteries, they are subjecting themselves to hazardous chemicals. Ethylene Oxide, among other sterilization chemicals, is damaging to one’s health when consistently exposed, is costly to maintain, and is required to be active for a long period of time to perform properly. Additionally, storage containers need to be well-kept and chemical transportation practices need to be stabilized in order to safely store and maintain substances used during sterilization.

Direct Risk to Patient Safety

Reusable medical devices require thorough sterilization to eliminate any risk to a patient’s safety. A reusable speculum’s intricate design features unique crevices, bolts, and openings. As soon as a reusable speculum is used on a patient, biological debris will easily hide within these areas. Therefore, chemical sterilization must take place between each reusable speculum or reusable battery’s use. When a reusable medical device is not cleaned properly, it can result in the retention of debris, blood, and tissue on the device. This causes the transmission of infectious diseases between patients, leading to illness or even death.

Risk to the Medical Environment

Some of the detergents or solvents used during sterilization processes often contain harsh chemicals. These chemicals can compromise the safety of your practice’s general workspace, as the chemicals can reduce air quality. Air ventilation should be optimized throughout the building or office to avoid health hazards. If those sterilization chemicals are not stored in a secure location, other public areas can unintentionally be exposed to the harmful effects of those chemicals. The walls and floors of the office or decontamination room need to be constructed to withstand constant device sterilization.

Although general sterilization practices cannot be completely eliminated from a medical practice, they can be significantly reduced by opting for single-use, disposable speculums. Disposable speculums do not have to be sterilized before or after use, so staff members do not have to worry about excess chemical exposure. Physicians will use the speculum once on a single patient. The risk of cross-contamination is reduced, and patients can rest assured their pelvic examination will be a safe one. Once used, the physician can safely dispose of the device. A single-use, disposable medical device is the least risk-averse speculum on the market today.

Cyalume Medical’s SpecuLume EZ, a single-use, illuminated speculum, provides true intravaginal light directly to the point of examination for up to 15 minutes. Once used, the SpecuLume EZ, its light insert, and its corresponding packaging can be safely discarded in a clinical waste container. No disassembly is needed. Please visit Cyalume Medical for more information regarding the benefits of single-use, disposable speculums.

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