Speciality Sterile Services is the Decontamination Unit for Tallaght University Hospital. It is our job to make up to 200 reusable invasive medical devices (RMID) sets daily for our 12 Operating Theatres, Clinics and Outpatient Departments. There is a staff of 28 working in this Department. This is an essential function in a busy hospital ensuring equipment is safe for staff and patients, it is essential role in the prevention of healthcare associated infection. It is a service that our patients would not be aware of but without it our Hospital would be unable to carry out operations and/or medical procedures.
Decontamination is the combination of processes (including cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation) used to make RIMD safe for handling by staff and for use on Patients. In 2011 the Department implemented a computerised traceability system of RMID’s and a theatre trace into the operating theatres. The combination of both applications enables us to have full traceability of instrumentation used during patients’ procedures.
Cleaning is the process that physically removes soiling including large numbers of microorganisms and the organic material on which they thrive.
Disinfection describes a process that eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms on inanimate objects, with the exception of bacterial spores.
Sterilisation refers to a physical or chemical process that completely kills or destroys all forms of viable microorganisms from an object, including spores. Sterility is an absolute condition - an item is either sterile or not sterile.
For medical equipment, it is acceptable to achieve a sterility assurance level of one in a million chances of a single organism surviving the process.