How Medical Vacuums Can Optimize Equipment Sterilization

If you had to make a list of some of the most important practices taking place in any hospital or other healthcare environment, equipment sterilization would undoubtedly be right at the top.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, sterilization is a very precise process that destroys all microorganisms on the surface of a piece of equipment – thus reducing the opportunity for diseases to be transmitted during the future use of those items.

Inadequate sterilization of critical assets absolutely creates a high risk of transmitting pathogens. Thankfully, the reverse is also true – transmission of said pathogens via adequately sterilized equipment is “exceedingly rare,” according to the same source.

For the purposes of this discussion, any medical devices that have direct contact with body tissues or fluids are considered “critical items” and must be sterilized at all costs. This includes but is not limited to those assets that are used during patient examinations, tools that are used during surgeries and more.

One of the most common tools that professionals will use throughout this process is a medical vacuum. It is itself a critical piece of equipment that brings with it a host of different advantages that cannot be overlooked.

Medical Vacuums for Sterilization: An Overview

One of the major benefits of medical vacuums in a healthcare environment actually has to do with how they interact with air driven medical tools. Oftentimes, vacuums and medical grade compressed air will be used for the sterilization of equipment in particularly sensitive areas – especially ones where equipment powered by traditional electricity would interfere with other sensitive items in the room. Therefore, a medical vacuum can provide adequate sterilization in a way that is not disruptive for patient care at the same time.

One common situation in which medical vacuums are used has to do with the ethylene oxide sterilization process – one that has been used in the healthcare industry since all the way back in the 1940s. Here, medical vacuums are used to remove the air from a vacuum-tight chamber – at which point moisture, typically in the form of steam though this may vary depending on the situation, is added to the chamber to replace that which was lost during the initial vacuum portion of the process.

Then, an appropriate level of ethylene oxide is introduced into the room to make sure that an adequate sterilization process can begin. Once the equipment in question has been allowed to sit with the ethylene oxide for a predetermined period of time, a series of washes are performed to remove the chemical from the room. Medical vacuums are used again, followed by a pressurization process that sees the room filled with nitrogen. Finally, the medical vacuums are used to remove all obstructions from the room and the equipment in question is left in the most sterile state possible.

The Major Benefits That Medical Vacuums Bring With Them to Equipment Sterilization

All told, medical vacuums are an invaluable part of any healthcare environment not just because they assist in the sterilization process in a general sense, but in regard to how they can actually improve it across the board. Even in environments where other pieces of equipment can’t be used, they still go a long way towards preventing the transmission of microorganisms to medical workers, patients and anyone else in the area.

Medical vacuums are also an essential part of the sterilization process when it comes to the removal of medical waste – something that is particularly critical due to its contagious nature. In fact, according to one recent study, medical vacuums have a positive influence on both heat penetration and the ultimate sterilizing effect in these situations. As the vacuum degrees and vacuum times increase, it’s possible to achieve higher temperatures at the same pressure in sterilization chambers. This results in not only stronger heat penetration, but a much better sterilization rate as well.

So from that perspective a medical vacuum doesn’t just become a way to efficiently sterilize equipment in a place like a hospital – it becomes the fastest and most cost-effective way to do so as well.

But they also go a long way towards minimizing long-term damage to those essential pieces of medical equipment and other items. A lot of the foreign materials found in these areas like blood, bodily fluids and even medications are more than just a health risk. They’re also highly corrosive, and could potentially permanently damage a piece of life-saving equipment if left unchecked. That could delay critical care, which is obviously in nobody’s best interest.

Therefore, medical vacuums become a viable way to keep everyone safe and help a healthcare facility achieve the highest possible return on investment for its equipment as well – which in and of itself may be the most important benefit of all.

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