Labeling sterile packs using a variety of methods

By: September 15th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: When it comes to labeling sterile packs, what is required? Are there different systems available other than hand writing information on each pack? What are people doing?

A: There are several systems out there including bar coding, which is one of the most recent technologies, although some surgery centers may be financially unable to implement that technology.

Previous to that, people used a label that had the date it was sterilized on it. If you are using package integrity as your standard for when the package is no longer sterile, you label it with the date it was sterilized and you go clearly by package integrity. However, some centers are concerned when the packaging looks yellow or starts to get crispy like some of those packages can over time, and they are implementing some time limitations on the package integrity rule.

Ultimately, it’s up to your organization and how you choose to do that. AORN has some guidelines on how long a package is sterile after use, so that’s one place you could look to as a resource.

To download the full IC Q&A for infection control, click here and find it on the Tools page.


Load Record Label systems are available (similar to grocery store labelers)which allow the user to identify the date of sterilization, the load number and the operator. Paper labels are available for steam and EO processes, while synthetic labels are available for all processes. AORN and AAMI Standards both support event related sterility assurance, which means the processed item is considered sterile unless damaged, opened or wet.


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