Jack Miletic is an interventional spine physician at the National Pain Institute in Orlando, Florida. During the pandemic, UV sterilization became increasingly popular among healthcare facilities, nursing homes and private residences. Mr. Miletic is currently in the patent process for UV sterilization machines for ambulatory surgical centers as well as at-home use. In the following article, Mr. Miletic discusses how sterilization processes are improved in healthcare settings with modern advancements like UV lighting.
Ambulatory surgical clinics—also known as outpatient surgeries—help to ease the burden of treating and caring for patients in a hospital. Yet, because they generally work with patients on a short-term basis, it’s essential that they provide a sterile environment where patients can avoid nosocomial infections, recover, and then return to everyday life.
Jack Miletic explains that even in a modern ambulatory surgical clinic, common human error, outdated tools, and a general lack of knowledge can all lead to poor hygiene in a surgical environment. By encouraging new methodologies, teaching the importance of sanitation, and investing in high-quality surgical-grade equipment, outpatient facilities can better protect their patients.
Common Reasons Why Sterilization Fails in Ambulatory Surgeries
There are many reasons why the sterilization process can fail in an ambulatory surgical clinic. While some can be attributed to a lack of funding, some are as simple as basic human error. Jack Miletic discusses some of the most common reasons:
- Lack of knowledge: Many times, staff members in an outpatient surgery may not have the proper training or knowledge to correctly sterilize surgical instruments, causing diseases to spread throughout the general population.
- Poor quality equipment: If an ambulatory surgery is using outdated or low-quality equipment, it can be more difficult to properly sterilize instruments explains Jack Miletic. For this reason, it’s important for clinics to invest in new tools made from surgical-grade titanium or steel.
- Human error: Even when using the best equipment and procedures, human error can still occur. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as rushed procedures, distractions, or simply forgetting a step in the sterilization process.
- Environmental factors: Outpatient surgeries are often located in less-than-ideal environments, such as common office buildings, which can make it more difficult to keep the area clean and free of contaminants.
- Poorly designed sterilization protocols: If an ambulatory surgery’s sterilization protocols are not well designed, staff may not be able to properly follow them or may not have the necessary equipment to do so.
By identifying these problems, outpatient clinics can work to improve their sterilization protocols and better serve their patients.
Modern Advancements and Tools Used to Sterilize Equipment
Even in today’s high-tech world, there are still advancements in the ways that hospitals and outpatient surgeries sterilize their equipment according to Jack Miletic. Traditionally, medical facilities would use an autoclave to steam and sterilize equipment. Although they are still one of the preferred methods, they are no longer the only option.
Jack Miletic explains that many medical facilities are now using ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilize equipment. This method uses light waves to inactivate the DNA inside bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms, effectively killing them and preventing them from replication. This method is a quick and effective way to sterilize equipment without the use of chemicals or other pollutants.
Another popular method is using plasma sterilization. This involves using plasma, or ionized gas, to sterilize equipment. This method is effective against a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. No matter what method is used, though, it’s important that the sterilization process is conducted properly to ensure the safety of patients says Jack Miletic.
Preserving a Sanitized Surgical Theater Remains the Top Priority
Surgical site infections (SSIs) are among the most common type of nosocomial infections, and they can have a serious impact on patients’ recovery. In fact, SSIs are the most common cause of all hospital-acquired infections, and they can lengthen a patient’s hospital stay, increase their risk of readmission, and lead to higher mortality rates.
Jack Miletic says that while there are a variety of ways to prevent SSIs, one of the most important things to remember is to maintain a clean and sterile surgical theater. This means adhering to proper sterilization protocols, using high-quality equipment, and constantly reminding staff of the importance of sanitation.
Even with advancements in sanitization equipment, it’s still imperative that surgeons and nurses maintain the sanctity of a sterilized surgical theater. This means regularly reminding staff to scrub their hands before entering and sealing the theater before introducing a patient explains Jack Miletic.
By working to prevent contamination, surgeons can operate in a sterilized environment and close up the patient before a virus or bacteria can ever invade their body. Then, as long as the patient keeps the surgical site clean after returning home, they will heal without issue.
The Bottom Line
Hospital-acquired diseases are arguably the most avoidable diseases. All it takes to protect patient health is to improve sterilization techniques and remind doctors and nurses to clean their hands. With modern advancements, including UV and plasma sanitization, there’s no reason why an outpatient should ever worry about nosocomial infections according to Jack Miletic.