This is the first edition of CSA PLUS 1173, Guide to the selection and use of sterilization indicators. This handbook has been developed to answer general questions in all health care and personal service settings where monitoring of the effectiveness of reprocessing of medical devices takes place.
Effective sterilization processing is critical to the successful outcome of the thousands of sterile procedures that are performed daily at health care institutions and clinics throughout North America. This requires that reusable surgical instruments and medical devices be effectively cleaned, inspected, packaged, labelled, sterilized, and transported for reprocessing following their use. Multiple steps are necessary to ensure that each patient receives instruments and supplies that have been processed to the highest standards of care. In order to ensure the delivery of instrumentation that is safe and effective for use, health care professionals should not only adhere to the recommendations of the instrument manufacturer and relevant processing guidelines, but need to also have an understanding of the technology (equipment and processes) used to reprocess surgical instruments and medical devices. This includes an understanding of the basis whereby a given sterilization load is deemed acceptable for use. A key factor in this determination is the results of testing performed with various types of sterilization indicators.