Water seems to be the topic of choice this month. My August edition of Reader Digest on the cover read "How safe is our water?" (A good read I would suggest to everybody). I posted a story about ASC's in Illinois and many of them not passing recent audits. One ASC had this violation "A suburban Chicago center cleaned instruments in a sink that had no hot water." Interesting. I am sure when they washed their dishes at home they used hot water, but not for surgical instruments? I couldn't believe that hot water was not being used in the cleaning process. The water temperature for cleaning is different at each stage and the guidelines and standards suggest that you monitor the temperature during the cleaning process. Water is one of the keys to proper cleaning but it is also just as important in the sterilization process. I think we tend to forget the overall role water plays in a CSSD area. We mostly think of water for cleaning, but poor water quality can lead to poor steam quality. Recently I had a discussion with one of the experts (Jonathan Wilder, PhD) at H & W Technology, LLC (http://www.stericert.com) on sterilization and the importance water plays in the sterilization process. I had a concern about some stains and he shared with me his thoughts on what might be causing the them. From our conversation and what I have previously learned, it just reinforced the importance of monitoring the water quality within the CSSD area at various locations and stages of the cleaning and sterilization process. Many things can happen to water when it enters a medical facility. That is why you need proper testing. You have many ways to monitor not only the quality of the water being used in a CSSD department but also the temperature. Both are important factors in getting equipment and instruments clean and sterilized. My suggestion is if you are not monitoring your water and temperature on a regular basis you should start doing so very soon. In doing so, you will have information helpful to solving problems as they arise. Strange isn't it how just one line in an article on not using hot water gets us thinking about the role water plays in a medical setting especially a CSSD area.


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