Driving efficiency with robots in sterile services

An ageing population, tight labour markets, the ergonomic strain on employees, rising healthcare costs and sustainability goals are forcing hospitals to rethink the design 
of processes in the Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD). Robotic wrapping 
of medical instrument trays can contribute to a solution for these challenges, 
according to Mariska van der Vliet and Niels Welling

Wrapping an instrument tray, equipped with medical instruments, is the final step before sterilisation and reuse during a new medical procedure. To ensure sterility of the medical instruments in the instrument trays, it is essential that a validated folding method be performed according to protocol.1 This involves forming a structure in which the wrapping material includes multiple slings that ensure proper closure.

Blue wrap is usually used for wrapping — a non-woven polypropylene material that allows steam to pass through during the sterilisation process, while providing a barrier against external contamination, keeping the sterilised instruments protected until aseptic presentation in the operating theatre.

Reusable rigid sterilisation containers are used in some hospitals as a barrier for cleaned medical instruments. Using a rigid container as a barrier system has the disadvantage that there is a greater chance of ingress of airborne bacteria after sterilisation.2 American research based on a static bioaerosol test shows that the barrier effect of rigid containers is lower than that of blue wrap. 87% of the studied containers demonstrated bacterial ingress after the test, compared to 0% of the wrapped trays. Thereby, contamination rates of rigid containers increased significantly with increasing duration of use.

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