Sterilization: The high, medium and low levels that hospitals are using to assess risk

While it might not be immediately obvious to the visiting patient, cleanliness and sterilization is big business for hospitals. It might be the huge MRI scanner, or X-ray attention that first grabs your attention, but in amongst all of this are devices which are charged with the task of keeping everything flawlessly clean.

One such device comes in the form of 3m attest equipment. Hospitals will regularly use these indicators in a bid to assess just how clean their establishment is and ultimately, how safe it is for visiting patients.

As well as the advanced equipment, a lot of hospitals have now adopted a risk procedure in relation to sterilization. As the title has probably given away, these risks are generally split into high, medium and low level.

Let’s now take a look at each of the three to highlight how hospitals qualify each cleanliness risk.

High level risks

Let’s start with the highest level of risk that hospitals place for certain equipment.

Generally, they will class any instrument or surgical device that comes into contact with the body in this category. Specifically, this means that any sort of instrument that might enter tissue, or come into contact with bodily fluids, will be covered here.

The idea is that all such equipment must be sterilized before use on every patient.

Considering the vast amount of equipment that does come into contact with patients in this way, it goes without saying that high level sterilization is used frequently in medical establishments – perhaps managed more than any of the other risks we are detailing.

Medium-level risk

If we drop down a level, hospitals will generally adopt a slightly more relaxed approach with this equipment. They class this as “semi critical patient-care equipment” and to provide some examples, it could be anything from respiratory therapy equipment right the way to gastrointestinal endoscopes. In other words, it’s the type of equipment that will touch skin that isn’t intact.

The process for treating this equipment is different and doesn’t necessarily involve sterilization. Instead, the equipment will be treated with high-level disinfection before it is used on a patient.

Low level risks

Finally, low-level risks have their own set of procedures.

Low level objects are actually much different to anything we have looked at so far and don’t involve any sort of equipment that comes into direct contact with a patient. In other words, it’s classed as the noncritical surfaces that are involved in a hospital, meaning that it’s anything ranging from bedrails to any other furniture that patient’s skin (and everyone else who enters the hospital for that matter) will regularly come into contact with.

Just like with the medium level risks that we highlighted, no sterilization is required this time. Instead, low-level disinfection is performed and it should probably go without saying that this is carried out much less frequently in comparison to the other types of risks that we have mentioned through this guide.