In today’s world, cleanliness and health are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. If you make regular trips to a clinic or hospital, you may worry about being exposed to certain things that could harm your health. Worries like these tend to ease up when you gather more information about the problem. If the idea of hospitals being unclean gets to you, it may help you to know the common methods of sterilizing medical equipment so you can see how seriously medical professionals take this task.
A common sight in many hospitals and laboratories is a piece of equipment called an autoclave. For most medical devices, an autoclave and steam power can effectively sterilize them for very little cost. Extremely hot steam is pumped into the sterilization chamber. This steam creates an environment that doesn’t allow for bacteria, pathogens, or spores to survive. Pieces of equipment that are sensitive to heat can’t be put into an autoclave, so there are alternative options, even if this method is the most common form of sterilization.
A slightly more complex method of sterilizing medical equipment is the use of dry sterilizing techniques. Where water and steam are the key components of the previous methods, we only need heat and pressure for this method. This works by introducing the right amount of vacuum into the sterilization chamber. What this essentially does is create large amounts of pressure that doesn’t damage the equipment but instead remove pathogens and bacteria from it. We apply heat as well to kill these pathogens as the vacuum removes them from the equipment.
Chemical sterilization isn’t all that different from how we clean things in our own homes. Some chemicals we can even get our hands on ourselves, such as bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Other chemicals used in sterilization, such as ozone, are only utilized by professional operations. The process is simple—we simply submerge the equipment in the chemical of choice and leave it there until all microbial life dies off. While this is a widely used method of sterilization, we can’t use it on anything that might react with the chemicals, such as biological components.