Why did I choose this title for this update? By the end of this story, you will understand. Well, my job allows me the opportunity to visit many different medical facilities. Recently, I was in a department of one of these facilities and observed the staff using "pipe cleaners" to inspect cannulated devices to check if they were clean.
We all know the practice as a last step before packaging cannulated devices for sterilization. Many departments require staff to recheck the lumen by passing an appropriately sized moistened pipe cleaner to test that the lumen is clean. If it is, go ahead and wrap and sterilize. If not, send it back to square one for cleaning. What I saw was interesting, as the person pulled the pipe cleaner out of the box a lot of lint came flying out into the air. Not just some lint but in my view a lot of lint. I asked, does that happen all the time? They said yes, more so when we open a new box. I asked why use it? The response I received was that it was what purchasing bought, "a pipe cleaner is a pipe cleaner."
As professionals we have to do a better job of relaying why we need specific products and the pipe cleaner is a great example. Using the pipe cleaner you get at the local hobby and craft store should not be used in a Central Processing Department.
We have to make sure we get quality products. In this case of the pipe cleaner, we like many other manufactures, make fleece stem products that are low linting and are designed for use in a Central Processing Department.
As the title of the update says, "quality doesn't cost, it pays." You get what you pay for in the long run. In this case a hobby shop pipe cleaner costs less but produces a lot of lint, that will be expensive in terms of instrument care and patient care.