Top 4 Ways Medical Facilities Sterilize Devices - Preventing Spread of Disease Especially Vital for Older People in Care

Health care professionals have been concerned with preventing the spread of infections well before COVID-19. Today, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and doctor's offices work even harder to stop the spread.

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Top 4 Ways Medical Facilities Sterilize Devices - Preventing Spread of Disease Especially Vital for Older People in Care
3 Min Read May 10th, 2022

Hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, labs, and their staff fight diseases every day by ensuring they use sterilized supplies. Here are the top four ways medical facilities sterilize devices to keep you and your loved ones healthy and prevent the spread of infections and diseases.

The germ theory of disease was a breakthrough discovery in disease prevention. Now, it's the current scientific theory for how many diseases are transmitted.

In this theory, certain diseases are said to be caused by the invasion of the body by microorganisms. These microorganisms are too small to be seen except through a microscope. 

A painting of Louis Pasteur.

Louis Pasteur - a French chemist and microbiologist

Louis Pasteur, a French chemist and microbiologist, English surgeon Joseph Lister, and Robert Koch, a German physician, get much of the credit for developing this theory advancing medicine, and dramatically preventing the spread of disease. 

Medical staff in medical facilities worldwide work hard to limit the spread of disease in health care environments in formal settings and in home health care settings. 

These are the top four ways medical facilities sterilize devices.

·       Steam and Pressure

Autoclaves, also called steam sterilizers, work by using steam under pressure to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. Items placed in the autoclave must withstand temperatures typically above 120 degrees Celsius. Also, objects that steam can damage, such as paper, are not placed in the autoclave.

A staff member places items separately into the autoclave to ensure even penetration by the steam. While this method sounds simple, facilities must closely follow guidelines on how to use the autoclave to ensure safety and efficacy.


·       Dry Heat

Whereas autoclaves use wet heat to sterilize items, medical staff can also sterilize devices with dry heat. The dry heat method sterilizes items by slowly heating them to a high temperature, killing bacteria and other microorganisms. Dry heat is often used for powders and liquids.

This method is generally not as efficient as steam sterilization. But dry heat has several sterilizing applications, including for hydrophobic items and items that moisture can damage, such as powders.

·       Chemicals

Medical providers can also sterilize equipment with chemicals. One of the most common chemicals used for sterilization is ethylene oxide. This chemical compound works by destroying the cell membranes of harmful microorganisms. In fact, the FDA reports that about 50 percent of all sterile medical devices in the U.S. are sterilized with ethylene oxide.

Ethylene oxide is used on plastic, resin, metals, or glass devices. It can also sterilize objects with multiple layers of packaging or other difficult-to-reach spaces, such as tubes like catheters. The wide applicability of this method makes this one of the top four ways medical facilities sterilize devices.

·       Radiation

At times, medical staff sterilizes devices with radiation. This method typically sterilizes single-use items, such as syringes, medical gloves, and gowns.

A staff member seals a clean item in an air-tight bag, then exposes the item to radiation. Radiation causes severe damage to cellular DNA. Since DNA controls the cell, the cell cannot function properly after sustaining this damage, so it dies, sterilizing the equipment. The sealed bag ensures the object stays sterile until opened.

·       Infection Prevention Vital for Older People

Long-term health care facilities and in-home caregivers must pay special attention to infection prevention because of the nature of those they are caring for. When people live close together, they are more likely to become sick with infections that can be transmitted from person to person.

When a person coughs, sneezes, and speaks, droplets of saliva and mucus are released. These droplets, which are infected by microorganisms, can be inhaled through a person's nose and mouth and can contaminate a person's or caregiver's hands. 

Even common infections, like the flu or the common cold, can spread quickly throughout the population, including staff, creating health problems for everyone. 

Keeping equipment and the care environment clean and sterilized keeps the care recipient healthy and the caregiver. Keep in mind the staff and caregivers go home after work to their families. We saw what could happen during the COVID-19 virus crisis. 

Often family caregivers forget or are unaware of the importance of infection prevention, proper sanitation, and sterilization in their roles as caregivers. Informal family caregivers are usually untrained and unprepared for their role and often make the situation worse for the loved one they are helping. 

Check this resource for information - Disinfection and Sterilization - APIC.

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About the Author

Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.

LTC News Contributor Mallory Knee

Mallory Knee

Contributor since September 25th, 2020

Editor's Note

Being an informal family caregiver is hard enough considering the emotional and physical pressure and stress. However, many family caregivers cause harm to the older family member they are helping. In many situations, they force the care recipient into a long-term care facility because they are not providing safe and appropriate care. 

Informal family caregivers are used when little financial resources are available to pay for professional care or when no planning was done beforehand. Sometimes the adult children feel they need to try to keep mom or dad at home.

Families go into crisis mode when a parent starts experiencing a decline in their health, body, or mind. Professional home health care providers and long-term care facilities will usually ask this question first:


"Does Mom or Dad own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy?"


All too often, the answer is no. When the answer is no, the family will either become caregivers or they will use their parent's resources to pay for professional long-term care services - or both.

The sad thing is this is preventable. No, we can't prevent aging and the need for long-term health care - but - we can prevent the crisis on family and finances. 

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will provide the guaranteed tax-free resources to pay for your choice of quality care options, including in-home care. Not only will your assets be protected, but you will give your loved ones the time to be family instead of caregivers.

The ideal time to obtain LTC Insurance is before retirement. Most people get their coverage in their 50s when they can take advantage of lower premiums and better health.

Seek Professional Help Planning for Long-Term Care

Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price. 

Long-term care is a very specialized area, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.

A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

Planning Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS

Planning for the future is never easy, but long-term health care planning can be very complicated and comes with many emotions. Getting the right tools and resources will make the process much easier.

One of the goals is to reduce the stress and anxiety usually placed on your family at the time of crisis. LTC NEWS can be beneficial in providing you with important information for you to consider.

LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

Need Help Now for Mom or Dad?

If your family is already in crisis and you need to find help for mom or dad, LTC NEWS can help. We have put together several comprehensive guides to help you in your process.

Start by reading our four guides -  

If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

Get Assistance in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim

Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance. 

Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care. 

If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work - free with no obligation. 

Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

Advantages of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well. 

Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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LTC NEWS is open to contributors to share their stories with the world. 

You can write a story or ongoing column for LTC NEWS. You can write about many topics, including aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, retirement planning, and long-term care, to name a few.

Be sure to write for our core target audience of adults aged 40 and older. Our audience is worldwide; however, our primary target is the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other English-speaking nations. 

Improve your website or blog's SEO and gain exposure and traffic at the same time by being a contributor to LTC NEWS. 

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Email your story idea or article: - LTC News Contributors | LTC News

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Use LTC NEWS to drive traffic to your website and help you attract people interested in your products and services. Plus, you can improve your website's SEO so more consumers can find you when they search for your products and services.

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Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help you market your business, drive traffic, and improve SEO - Advertise With Us | LTC News.

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Let's work together and help consumers who search for us on the web - Site Request | LTC News.

You can also affordably purchase a dofollow link to your website or blog on LTC NEWS. Just contact the advertising department.

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