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Sterilization expectations from The Joint Commission

There’s been quite a bit of controversy surrounding The Joint Commissions’ recent position on sterilization requirements [1]. In its attempt to solidify some survey standards, it seems The Joint has issued some confusion instead.

Many healthcare workers familiar with the sterilization process question whether The Joint Commission consulted many expert sources, since some of the terminology in the position statement seems dated.

Some particular problems stem from The Joint Commissions’ stance on flashing, a sterilization process that does not utilize a full cycle. Here are some of the main concerns:

The good news is the Joint Commission did mention what surveyors will be looking for. Based on those statements it seems that despite some of the above confusion, a surveyor will deem it acceptable if your facility follows the manufacturers instructions for each instrument, the sterilizer, and the wrapping (surveyors will be looking for proof of these instructions), and show that you limit the incidence of flash sterilization.

For more detailed sterilization guidance, you can always refer to the CDC/HICPAC guidelines [2], ANSI/AAMI ST79 [3], or read my previous steam sterilization post [4]. You can also visit the Tools section for a free downloadable Sterilization Line Listing Log [5] – one of the documents surveyors will be looking for.

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The Infection Prevention Core Training Bundle [6] is a comprehensive three-part Webcast series that focuses specifically on IC best practices. With expert advice from OSHA Healthcare Advisor bloggers and IC experts Peg Luebbert [7] and Libby Chinnes [8], this bundle is your complete solution for staff education on infection prevention, and a solid training foundation for your IC program.