This past week we posted an article that talked about the usage of surgical towels as tray liners. The article pointed out that a residue on the towels might have played a role in a staining issue on surgical instruments. I then saw a comment about this same topic on one of the many forums where healthcare professionals ask and answer questions. I want to share that interesting comment without using names: "We had a similar, though not so dramatic, experience at our place. Instruments being permanently stained when sterilized with huck towels. Our laundry denied responsibility at first but it happened at several sites so different water, different sterilizers. Staining only with instrument sets with towels. Finally they discovered a problem that inhibited rinsing. We discarded hundreds of dollars of instruments at one site alone." Huck , hand or surgical towels have been used as liners as long as I have been around a medical facility. They're used for many purposes other than what they are intended for, and that is drying hands. This article has pointed out to me the "hidden secrets" found in surgical towels. It also shows how creative we all can be when we have issues that need to be solved. The surgical towel has been used to provide protection both in a tray and under a tray and to help with the wicking of water to promote drying. Where I have worked in the past, I have used the surgical towel in the manner I have described. I am not sure based on this article if I would continue to do so. This is not only because of the possible residual chemical issue, but because I would be using the towel in a manner it was not intended for. Could the maker and the place that laundered the towel provide an assurance that the leaching of chemicals out of the towel would not occur during sterilization? This has made me think, we have raised such a concern about the possible leaching of chemicals from count sheets that many places are not placing them in trays any more. Should we not use this same logic when it comes to using surgical towels in trays? Just something more to ponder.


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