A process which began about a year ago, when Joint Commission revised their position on Flash Sterilization has culminated in a consensus statement by the leading standards writing bodies in the United States. Flash Sterilization has always raised controversy. The concern is, of course, that the very name "Flash" implies a process which is done in a hurry and is incomplete. More substantively, there has been concern that in practice, instruments are not properly prepared for the flash cycle (e.g., inadequately cleaned, dried, etc.) and thus compromise the sterilization cycle. Further, as practiced, flashed instruments are often not in a container which maintains the sterile field after the process. Instead they are transported in an open container from a non-sterile environment to the sterile field.
The joint statement from AAMI, APIC, AORN ASC IAHCSMM and AAAHC is an industry effort to clarify and improve the practice of flash sterilization. This effort begins with the elimination of the term "flash" replaced with "Immediate Use Steam Sterilization." This change in terminology is meant to emphasize that 1) the process which includes proper reprocessing steps, including cleaning, decontaminating and aseptic transportation methods; and 2) this process is reserved on for those situations where the instruments are to be used immediately.