If you are anything like me, you sighed out loud in hearing about the outbreaks this week at some care facilities linked to potentially contaminated scopes.

The word superbug should  be only something found in scary movies, yet is unfortunately very real.

Patients have gotten sick and some have died and the reports we are hearing ties it to the care they received.  It provides a reminder to pause to review our own decontamination processes.

If you didn’t hear about the story, here is a link where you can learn more.

I thought I would include some things I recently considered, as well as learned in researching the issue.

Enzymatic cleaners.  Review, the manufacturer’s guidelines for dilution instructions.  Type the “recipe”  in large font, and post it in wipeable material for everyone to see in your decontam area.  Don’t assume everyone knows or has read the small print.  Include a measuring tool for the cleaner so the amount of cleaner used is accurate.

Tools for the job.  Do the cleaning brushes your facility uses look like last year’s toothbrush? Is your staff using scrub sink brushes? Order some new cleaning brushes and replace them regularly.  Place some hooks for appropriate storage when not in use.

Manufacturer’s guidelines.  Pull up and print your manufacturer’s guidelines on anything you process. The regs requIre our processes are guided by the manufacturer.  If not easily accessible, call your rep and have him or her get them for you. Compare your cleaning, soaking, and rinsing processes with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Create a binder for everything you are cleaning. Store it in the area for quick and easy reference.  Have everyone that processes review and sign off.

Training.  Have you done some sterilization training lately? Are there any staff that are new or fill in to help clean instruments? Find a webinar and have everyone review and sign off, and repeat annually. Here is a free webinar regarding decontamination training offered by Steris.

PPE.  Are there gowns, goggles, and gloves in each size for everyone? Make sure the area is well stocked, and while you’re at it, check your spill kit and eye wash station.  Remind the staff not to be complacent with their safety.

OR towels are disposable.  Discard them after use unless they are part of the linen service. It should go without saying, but staff may need a reminder that they are not to be treated like dishtowels.

Get the current AAMI ST79 standards here.  

Share this information with your Infection Control nurse, if that is not you, and have them complete the decontamination review process and put it in a QAPI template.  E mail me at if you want a copy of mine, and I’ll be happy to share!

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