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ST79 revision coming soon

Publish Date: 9/26/2012

In a few weeks, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) expects to release a third amendment to the 2010 version of the ANSI/AAMI ST79 Comprehensive guide to steam sterilization and sterility assurance in health care facilities.

This document guides best practice for perioperative professionals managing sterilization of medical instrumentation, both in the OR and in the sterile processing area. The document also closely aligns with practice recommendations in AORN's Recommended Practices for Sterilization, which was updated earlier this year.

"The AAMI and AORN guidance documents intentionally mirror each other, in order to provide standardized practice recommendations for safe sterilization in the perioperative setting," notes Ramona Conner, MSN, RN, CNOR, manager of AORN recommended practices and co-chair of the AAMI workgroup charged with developing and updating ST79.

Conner says every perioperative professional should be aware of the updates and clarifications in the latest ST79 revision. Here are the highlights:

  • Updated terminology and definitions. The term "flash sterilization" is replaced with "immediate use steam sterilization" to better reflect current practice and agreed upon terminology in a multisociety position paper on the switch in terminology, which AORN and AAMI both participated in shaping. Also, the term "sterile processing department" has been revised to "sterile processing area" to more accurately reflect the reality that this area is not a separate department in all health care facilities.
  • A comparison of chemical indicator classifications clarifies the similarities and differences between chemical indicator classifications and requirements as defined by ANSI/AAMI/ISO and FDA.
  • Updates to the design considerations section strengthen the suggestion that receipt of loaner instrumentation be conducted and documented in an allocated space with adequate storage.
  • Anti-fatigue mats are recommended at sinks in the decontamination area. In the preparation area it is suggested that processing tables be ergonomic and preferably height adjustable.
  • Hand hygiene facilities are recommended in the sterile storage facility.
  • Updates to the section on handling, collection, and transportation of contaminated items recommend that instruments placed into containers or transport pans be placed in an orderly way so delicate instruments are placed on top of heavier devices. It is also recommended that instruments requiring repair be identified at the point of use.
  • Updates to the section on cleaning and other decontamination processes reflect current best practices in the field, including the need for professionals working in decontamination to have access to the device manufacturer's instructions for use.

An October article in AAMI News will further explain the rationale for these and other updates in the ST79 revision.

Additional Resources

Visit the AAMI website in late October to download a free PDF of the ANSI/AAMI ST79:2010/A3:2012 -- Comprehensive guide to steam sterilization and sterility assurance in health care facilities, Amendment 3. The print format of the consolidated text of ST79 and the amendment will be available in November.

AORN's 2012 revision of Recommended Practices for Sterilization is currently available through eSubscription and will be published in the 2013 edition of AORN Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices. Learn more at AORNs online source for Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices.

Guidelines for Perioperative Practice


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