Clinical guide to troubleshoot wet packs

‘Wet packs’ create a potential pathway for the migration of microorganisms from the outside to the inside of the packed set, so identifying underlying issues is a vital part of quality control. Dr. Georgia Alevizopoulou provides a troubleshooting guide and discusses some of the factors that lead to ‘wet packs’.

A common source of frustration globally for both Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD) and Operating Room (OR) personnel, since the earliest days of sterilisation in hospital practice, is the occurrence of “wet packs”, a common term used in healthcare to describe items containing moisture after the sterilisation process is completed (see figure 1). In a stricter definition, packs are considered wet when moisture in the form of dampness, droplets or puddles of water is found on or within a wrapped pack, instrument and basin set or a container after completed steam sterilisation cycle and generally at least one hour cooling time.1

The first thing to point out before discussing the details is that the problem with wet packs is rather a big one. The troubling issue with wet packs is that they result in considerable time and expenditure on reprocessing of all packs, serious disruptions in the service and procedures of the CSSD and the OR, as well as in the fundamental risk of a breakdown in the sterility of the product and/or the sterile field. 

Under normal, validated operating conditions, the instruments, single or in sets, in the load will be dry following steam sterilisation. The observation of moisture remaining on or in a sterilised pack should be alarming: wet packs create a potential pathway for the migration of microorganisms from the outside to the inside of the packed set and thus, when identified, they are considered compromised and rejected as non-sterile. In fact, it is very likely that there are several wet packs in the same load and, typically, the entire load needs to be recalled and reworked. 

Log in or register FREE to read the rest

This story is Premium Content and is only available to registered users. Please log in at the top of the page to view the full text. If you don't already have an account, please register with us completely free of charge.

Latest Issue

BAUN Summer Educational Event – Essential Urology Skills

Crowne Plaza, Newcastle Stephenson Quarter
6th June 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - Exeter

University of Exeter
22nd June 2024


Coventry Building Society Arena
26th - 27th June 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - Cardiff

TBA, Cardiff
13th July 2024

AfPP Annual Conference 2024

University of Warwick
2nd - 3rd August 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - London

Cavendish Conference Centre, London
14th September 2024