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Chapter 12

Sterilization

1.)                 Sterilization is the hub of the clinical support zone.  It has the potential, if not properly planned, to be a bottleneck.  Quick, efficient, and safe reprocessing of your instruments can be the heartbeat of the clinical support zone.

2.)                Locate Sterilization centrally to serve all of your Operatories.  Ideally it should be along the staff’s primary path of travel.

3.)                Your Sterilization Center can be an effective marketing tool to educate your patients and prospective patients on how you properly care for their health by using the best methods and equipment to disinfect the instruments in your practice. Showcase your Sterilization Center.

4.)                Use a glass partition to separate Sterilization from the public path of travel. This will allow it to be visible to patients during office tours while staff members safely process the instruments.

5.)                 If your Sterilization area is highly visible, on a primary path of travel or being used in tours of your office, then this zone must be perfect at all times.

6.)                 Change the flooring material if your Sterilization Center is slightly recessed off the primary path of travel.  This will help delineate the clinical zone from the patient path of travel.

7.)                 Consider patient sight lines when placing your Sterilization Center in your initial space planning.  Patients walking down the corridor towards the Operatories should only have a view of the “clean” side of Sterilization.  Avoid placing the “soiled” instruments in Sterilization where patients can see them when going to an Operatory.

8.)                 The most important element in designing a Sterilization Center is an efficient and safe flow from “soiled” to “sterilized”.  Do not allow “clean” instruments to pass over the “dirty” side, since this is a potential place for contamination.

9.)                 Soiled trays can be placed in a dedicated cabinet above the incoming tray processing area.  Have this cabinet fabricated with dark or smoked Plexiglas to slightly conceal any soiled trays from patients view, yet your staff members can see when the mounting trays stored inside need to be processed.  Do not store anything else in this cabinet.