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J Hosp Infect. 1999 Dec;43 Suppl:S43-55.

Infection control: the role of disinfection and sterilization.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill 27599-7030, USA.


Many articles that document infections after improper decontamination of patient-care items have emphasized the necessity for appropriate disinfection and sterilization procedures. This paper provides recommendations on the preferred method for disinfection and sterilization of patient-care items based on the intended use of the item (i.e., critical, semicritical, noncritical). The chemical disinfectants recommended for patient-care items and instruments include glutaraldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid, sodium hypochlorite, alcohol, iodophors, phenolics, and quaternary ammonium compounds. The choice of disinfectant, concentration, and exposure time is based on the risk of infection associated with the use of the item. The sterilization methods briefly discussed include steam sterilization, ethylene oxide, new low-temperature sterilization technologies and dry heat. When properly used, these disinfection and sterilization processes can ensure the safe use of invasive and noninvasive medical devices. However, this requires strict adherence to current cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization guidelines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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