From reprocessing to management: lots of news in Biel 18th Swiss Conference on Sterilisation

© Sacha Danesi/SGSV

© Sacha Danesi/SGSV

summarised by Stefan Dudzinski-Lange

After a long time, sterilisation professionals were finally able to meet again at the usual place in the Congress Centre Biel for the 18th Swiss Symposium on Sterilisation. Even though attendance was lower than before, this did not diminish the joy of meeting in person again. The professional programme also had a lot to offer.


Rafael Moreno from Swissmedic presented innovations of the Swiss Good Practice for Reprocessing (GPA) in the version published this year in two consecutive lectures. Almost all areas of the GPA have been adapted, such as traceability, resources, qualification of personnel, etc. Here, too, the focus was not on adding regulations, but rather on making them more concrete.
Frédy Cavin from the Swiss Society for Sterile Supply explained how the "Swiss guidelines had to change in connection with the GPA 2022". By adapting the GPA, many requirements have become more concrete. In some existing guidelines, details regarding these requirements can already be found, for example in the "Checklist for inspection of reprocessing units for medical devices (RUMED)". Guidelines such as the "Swiss Guideline for the Validation and Routine Monitoring of Cleaning and Disinfection Processes for Medical Devices", on the other hand, need to be revised in parts.

Reprocessing of endoscopes was also on the agenda on the first day. With his lecture "The reprocessing of flexible endoscopes in 2022", Frank Bieger from the University Hospital Zurich took a journey into the history of reprocessing and showed what development the topic has taken. But even if reprocessing is more modern in 2022, the dangers have not become less.
Christoph Leutwyler, Olympus Schweiz AG, and Holger Stiegler, Medtechnic GmbH, described the development of test soils and process indicators up to flow control. In reality, however, every second flow control is manipulated (limit values extended) or switched off! This led both speakers to their conclusion that the reprocessing of endoscopes needs to be constantly optimised.

In his presentation "Mobile Sterilisation System 2020", Christophe Grange reported on how the army has modernised their mobile reprocessing unit for use in the field. The containers largely correspond to civilian requirements. Therefore, the system can in principle also be used for clinics that are going through construction or renovation measures with the RUMED, for example.

After the ordinary general meeting, the second day started with the topic of organisational development. Nicole Berset from SterInnov Sàrl highlighted how RUMEDs can become crisis-proof in her presentation "Uncertainty management and control, on the way to resilience". There are many examples of risks in operations, for example floods or power failures. The speaker advocated managing risks through a risk analysis and a business continuity plan (BCP).

Isabelle de la Charlerie from the Association des infirmiers de stérilisation belges francophones (ASTER) provided a glimpse into a Belgian sterile team. Her presentation dealt with the tension between managers and technicians: "Sterilisation manager and sterilisation worker, two visions – one goal?" In her conclusion, she addressed what competences the management and the staff need. For example, staff should be able to work under pressure, have a positive attitude and build up methodological competencies. On the other hand, demands to be met by management include responsibility, judgement and decision-making skills, acceptance of feedback and the ability to analyse.

"Anticipating needs for surgical emergencies: Necessity or constraint?" was the question addressed by Ingrid Jullian Desayes from the Centre Hospitalier Métropole Savoie in Chambéry, France. The core of the presentation was a plea for the introduction of emergency surgical packs in order to be able to react quickly in an emergency. The success of these measures depends on various criteria. For example, the preparation of a list of required emergency needs the coordination of all parties involved. Often, this step would not be taken in RUMEDs, declared Jullian Desayes.

Maria-Theresia Linner from the German Society for Sterile Supply (DGSV) explained that germs can be transmitted primarily by people. Every person loses up to one million skin flakes every day. Her credo was therefore that good reprocessing was not possible without hygiene. This requires the control of environmental conditions in a RUMED as laid out in two DGSV recommendations.

With the "Recommendation of the Hygiene, Construction and Technology Expert Committee", Adelheid Jones, also DGSV, showed which requirements exist for the construction and also the conversion of a RUMED. Since RUMEDs today are highly technical work areas, these range from detailed planning of the technical building equipment (compressed air, water treatment, steam, dosing systems, waste water, etc.) to the arrangement of the rooms (in addition to unclean/clean, also changing rooms, offices, storage, disposal, etc.).

Whether 3D-printed implants will be the standard in the future remains to be seen. However, there are already many possible applications. In the lecture "Customised sterilisation of MP from the 3D printer and sterilisation in the healthcare facility", Hervé Pidoux described what experiences the CHU Besançon has made, especially with regard to sterilisation. Based on data from imaging procedures, the clinic creates custom-made products such as dental splints from the 3D printer. Compliance with the current regulations is associated with high demands. Among other things, an institutionally validated organisational unit, suitable premises, validation of the printing process and risk management are required.

Danièle Marques from the Clinique Générale Beaulieu in Geneva dealt with the optimisation of traceability. With his presentation "Defining a vision and daring to improve and restructure", he described the restructuring of data management. Whereas before the introduction of new software, the whereabouts of the sterile equipment sets were kept in Excel tables, the existing problems were significantly improved by the tool introduced and by the restructuring of the RUMED.

Next year, the SGSV will celebrate its 40th anniversary. The anniversary congress will again take place in Biel, Switzerland, from 21 to 22 June 2023.

A detailed report including all lectures will be published in issue 4/2022 of Central Service which will be released on August 25. Stay tuned with the STERI WORLD Newsletter. Subscribe now



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