Sterile Technique, Basic
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Sterile technique is used to prevent contamination with microbes, preventing infection. It’s used in conjunction with other procedures and isn’t a procedure in itself. Sterile technique should be followed any time the patient’s skin is intentionally perforated, during procedures that involve entry into a sterile body cavity, or when coming into contact with nonintact skin resulting from trauma or surgery. Procedures requiring sterile technique include inserting a urinary catheter, inserting an IV catheter, dispensing and administering IV drugs, and changing surgical dressings. A patient with a compromised immune system (such as a burn patient or a patient who has just had an organ transplant or is receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy) also requires sterile technique, even for some procedures that would normally require only clean technique.
Sterile gloves ▪ personal protective equipment ▪ sterile supplies, as required by the procedure to be performed ▪ Optional: sterile bowl, sterile normal saline solution, sterile drape.
Many procedures have commercially prepared kits that provide all of the necessary components.
Preparation of Equipment
Gather all the equipment in the patient’s room. Check each package carefully and discard any that has a hole or tear or is wet.1 Note the expiration date and discard any package that’s beyond that date.1 Make sure that the sterilization tape has turned the appropriate color. (See your facility’s policy; color depends on the product used and sterilization method.) Prepare a clean surface to set up the equipment for the sterile procedure.
Verify the doctor’s order.
Confirm the patient’s identity using at least two patient identifiers according to your facility’s policy.5
Explain the procedure to the patient and family to relieve anxiety and ensure understanding and cooperation.
Follow standard precautions by putting on the necessary personal protective equipment for the procedure. (See “Standard precautions,” page 669.)
Opening Sterile Kits
Remove the plastic outer wrapper from the procedure kit, if one is present.
Place the inner wrapped kit on a clean, dry flat surface because any moisture on the table could be absorbed through the wrapper and contaminate the sterile supplies.
Position the kit so that the tip of the triangle-pointed wrapper is toward you so you don’t have to reach over the sterile contents after the other flaps are opened.
Grasp the outer portion of this outermost flap to avoid contaminating the sterile field.1
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