Washer-Disinfector: What It Is & How It Is Used?
Get To Know About Washer-Disinfectors
Maintaining proper sanitation is crucial especially when you are heading a dental, veterinary, or medical practice. The safest way to deliver healthcare in these situations is to follow the code of conduct: decontamination, assembly and sterile processing, sterile storage and distribution. Decontamination, which is the removal of soil from items, is the first and most vital step in sterilizing an equipment and critically mitigate potential infection. This is where washer-disinfectors come in. Over the past few years, there has been a steady rise in the use of washer disinfectors for cleaning instruments in medical settings before they go for sterilization. Finding one with an all-rounded versatility can be the saving grace for your safety appliances in surgical and non-surgical environments.
What is a washer-disinfector?
A washer-disinfector is a machine used for the automated cleaning and disinfection of instruments in practices, clinics, and medical centers. Basically, washer-disinfectors are medical-grade dishwashers guaranteed to remove dirt and debris off of instruments using a high-intensity spray system. They may also have the capability to thermally disinfect the instrument before moving them into a sterilizer.
Using a washer-disinfector is one of the best ways to clean and disinfect reusable medical instruments. In fact, medical guidelines suggest that the use of equipment such as washer-disinfectors be inculcated wherever possible as a safer and more effective alternative to manual hand-cleaning. Washer-disinfectors are commonly used on medical and pharmaceutical settings to either prepare goods for future autoclaving or to disinfect goods for later use. Nevertheless, this process of treating items is essential for a contaminant-free, secured environment applicable to both the practitioner as well as the patient.
How does a washer-disinfector work?
Different washer-disinfectors may be employed depending on your requirements. An autonomous clinic may need a smaller equipment whereas a hospital would require a much larger machine to cope with the demand of “washing” a large quantity of reusable medical equipment.
A typical washer-disinfector cleans your standard medical and dental instruments using these five important stages:
- 1. Flushing
The first stage of a washer-disinfector cycle is to remove both solid and fluid debris contamination from the items. A temperature below 45°C is used to prevent the protein coagulation and subsequent fixation of the contaminant on the instrument surface.
- 2. Washing
This step is followed by the thorough washing of the instruments. Using cold water, the machine will perform a pre-rinse and remove any thick soiling, successfully cleaning the instruments within the chamber. A detergent will be used to remove any stray dirt on these instruments.
- 3. Rinsing
The washed instruments will undergo a rinsing cycle where all the remaining agents from the detergent cycle and any remaining debris contamination is removed. This step ensures that the instruments are thoroughly cleaned and ready to be disinfected.
- 4. Thermal disinfection
Next, comes the disinfection stage. This is performed at a high heat, usually around 90°C, for a specified duration of time. Most brands of washer-disinfectors come pre-programmed with an established length of time to ensure correct duration for the disinfecting process. This process of disinfection is critical and should not be overlooked, as without it, your instruments may not be safe to use especially on a patient. Keeping the equipment at high heat for a designated period of time not only ensures that any bacteria is killed off, but also guarantees that the equipment is completely safe to operate.
- 5. Drying
The final stage is the drying stage whereby hot air is used to dry the instruments. Using a washer-disinfector helps save time to clean as well as dry the equipment. Making use of a HEPA filter can ensure that no additional bacteria or microbe bodies transmit onto the equipment in question during the drying process. And just like that, the medical equipment is ready and safe to use right out of the washer-disinfector.
Benefits of a washer-disinfector
Washer-disinfectors are popular in the medical industry to disinfect highly delicate equipment. Dentists, vets, and surgeons make use of these machines to save time and decontaminate their instruments with efficiency and haste. With the machine cleaning and drying all under one roof, it means that the professional has less things to worry about and can instead focus their attention on providing care rather than doing the washing up.
Furthermore, washer-disinfectors help kill off viruses and bacteria, ensuring that health and safety go hand-in-hand for their patients. By thoroughly cleaning the instruments using washer-disinfectors, you are protecting your patients and other staff from disease and cross-contamination.
Other great advantages of washer-disinfectors are:
- They can handle a large capacity of instruments so you will not have to worry about reloading every couple of hours. Instead, you can get all your instruments disinfected at once.
- They have a fully automated cycle which means that you will not be required to monitor the process and can simply let the machine do its thing.
- They result in reduced instrument handling, protecting the staff and patients from cross-contamination and instrument-related accidents.
- They include thermal disinfection at temperatures in the high 80s or 90s ensuring that all bacteria and viruses on the instruments are eliminated.