THERE IS AN UNSUNG HERO IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19: the sterile processing department of your local hospital. The Sterile Processing Department (SPD) and its technicians are charged with cleaning, preparing and sterilizing any reusable medical device used on patients.
Often overlooked—it is frequently located in the basement of your hospital—this department is as crucial as doctors treating patients. Without careful decontamination, disinfection and sterilization of life-saving equipment, doctors might not have the tools they need to save lives and hospitals might spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy new what is otherwise reusable equipment.
After surgeries or procedures, a sterile processing technician must transport contaminated (read: used) instruments from the operating room to the decontamination area and remove all bioburden that remains on the tools. This is more than simple soap and water. Techs must decontaminate delicate and expensive equipment, disassemble complex instruments, use special brushes to reach small spaces, deploy powerful disinfectants and detergents, and adhere to manufacturers’ instructions for correct processing.