Performance Test for Sealing Capability of Rigid Containers in Central Sterile Supply Departments in Tuen Mun Hospital and Pok Oi Hospital in Hong Kong
S. T. H. Lawab*, C. K. Leeab, W. C. Yeungb, N. L. Mokb, W. K. Tangb, W. S. Nga, K. W. Cheunga, C. T. Tanga, S. Y. Yipa, Y. M. Chua
Rigid sterilization containers are designed as a sterile barrier system to preserve the sterility of the enclosed contents. Although they are claimed to have a lengthy life span, it is a concern the sealing capability along the gasket seal because wear and tear may compromise the sealing capability. Container manufacturer recommends checking the container cover and the container by naked eye in between the packing process. Considering that visual inspection alone can never effectively check the performance of the sterile barrier system, this study aims at exploring the practical approach to validate the sealing capability of the sterilization container from a clinical user perspective. 30 new containers were served as control group while 1826 in use containers of different sizes and years of usage were examined in the Central Sterile Supplies Departments (CSSD) of Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH) and Pok Oi Hospital (POH) in Hong Kong. Smoke test was developed to evaluate the sealing capability of these containers with the aid of a smoke gun. At the same time, paper test and water leakage test were conducted for a comparative purpose. It was found that the three methods generated a different pass and fail level. Overall failure rate for smoke test was recorded ranging from 2.3% to 6.37%. Besides, the containers with usage over 11 years generated a higher fail rate in comparing with those using within 7 years. It is crucial that this study identified a standard method to measure the sealing capability of a container. Our study shows that the smoke test can serve as a supplement to validate the sealing capability of container as it can simulate the airborne transmission and the result is not affected by the external force and gravity.
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