| FAQ - Instrument Processing - 2014
There are many times when the instruments are not dry after the dry cycle has been completed. These instruments are removed from the sterilizer and placed on top of the sterilizer to finish drying. Is this an acceptable procedure?
Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team states as follows:
Drying packages inside the steam sterilizer is important to maintain the sterility of the instruments. Handling of wet packages can easily tear the paper, causing contamination of the instruments….Exposing wet packages to the environment outside the sterilizer also can cause wicking. Wicking is the process that allows bacteria and fungi to penetrate wet sterilization paper (paper/plastic peel pouches, sterilization wrap, or paper pouches). Wicking enables microbes from the air, spatter, dust, fingers, and other contaminated surfaces that contact the outer surface of a wet instrument package to be drawn through to the instruments inside. Thus one should not handle wet packs or expose wet packs to the office environment. One should let these packages dry inside the sterilizer before handling them. 1
Ask OSAP does not review, evaluate, certify, recommend or endorse products. Ask OSAP also does not provide technical support for specific products. If you find that the sterilizer unit is not drying to your satisfaction, and if you have further questions about procedures and a specific product it is recommended that you consult with the manufacturer’s written instruction manual and/or contact the manufacturer of your product. The sterilizer unit manufacturer should be able to provide the necessary assistance specific to your product.
1) Miller CH. Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, 5th edition. Elsevier/Mosby Publishers. Page 132.