Asepsis prevents microbial contamination during procedures where the body’s natural defences are bypassed.

Asepsis can be defined as medical or surgical. Medical asepsis aims to reduce the number of organisms and prevent their spread by key principles such as decontaminating hands, use of PPE and not touching key parts.

Surgical asepsis is a strict process and includes procedures to eliminate micro-organisms from an area (thus creating a sterile environment) and is practised in operating theatres and for invasive procedures such as the insertion of a central venous catheter.

See also ‘aseptic techniques’.