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Infection prevention and control guidelines

10. Reprocessing reusable medical devices

Staff education, training and competency assessment

      1. Staff education, training and competency assessment

Last revised: 18 Aug 2023

Staff education, training and competency assessment

Correct reprocessing of reusable medical devices to minimise the risk of infection transmission requires technical expertise and knowledge. Practices must ensure that staff involved in reprocessing have received adequate education (eg a course), training and regular competency assessment, and that these are documented.

It is essential that staff responsible for reprocessing reusable equipment completely understand the tasks, know exactly how to perform all steps (and have immediate access to clear and comprehensive instructions), and can be relied on to follow them completely. Responsibility for reprocessing tasks must not be delegated to administrative staff or other staff without first providing adequate initial and ongoing training.

Courses on these techniques are available from education providers. Additional education and retraining need to be provided when new procedures or equipment are introduced. The Sterilizing Research Advisory Council of Australia provides a list of sterilising courses available in all states and territories.

Regular competency checking can be performed onsite as part of ongoing training, to ensure consistency of performance.

Tasks that require competency assessment include:

  • correct application of standard precautions, including hand hygiene and personal protective equipment
  • cleaning of equipment and the reprocessing area, correctly following the practice’s protocols (including cleaning products, cleaning equipment and cleaning methods)
  • adherence to workflow protocols in the reprocessing area to avoid cross-contamination
  • correct inspection and packaging of reusable medical devices and equipment
  • correct loading of the steriliser
  • choosing the correct sterilisation cycle
  • monitoring and recording the sterilisation cycle
  • unloading the steriliser
  • parameters for releasing reusable medical devices and equipment for reuse
  • correct storage of equipment and reusable medical devices
  • tracking of sterilised items used in procedures
  • rotation of sterile stock
  • detecting abnormalities in the process, recording them, and taking appropriate corrective action
  • steriliser cleaning and maintenance requirements (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual maintenance, annual calibration and servicing, validation)
  • cleaning and maintenance requirements for all other reprocessing equipment including ultrasonic cleaners, washer-disinfectors with or without ultrasonic capacity, and biological indicator readers
  • following the practice’s procedures for steriliser operation and maintenance.