Why is sterilisation important?

surgery-2Sterilisation is the process of removing all traces of bacteria and other germs. It is an important process, which helps to reduce the risk of infection and prevent the spread of infections and illnesses.

When is sterilisation required?

Sterilisation is used in a variety of different clinical settings, including hospitals, dental surgeries and community health centres, as well as at home and in outlets or places providing food.

Why is sterilisation important?

Sterilisation for babies

Sterilisation is very important for babies because their immune systems are underdeveloped and they are consequently prone to developing illnesses and infections. Sterilising babies’ bottles and other equipment helps to reduce the risk of them developing infections such as thrush and gastroenteritis. In the past, when parents did not use sterilisers, gastroenteritis was the cause of hundreds of deaths amongst babies. Some experts say that sterilising is particularly important for babies that have been bottle-fed because they are not taking in colostrums from the mother’s breast milk; colostrums helps the baby’s immune system to become stronger.

Sterilisation in the medical industry

Sterilisation is very important in the medical industry. Without sterilisation, infections would fly around and thousands of lives would be lost. Sterilisation helps to prevent the development and spread of infection, as well as protecting members of staff working in clinical settings and members of the public.

Sterile services departments work in hospitals and other clinical settings to sterilise medical equipment in order to prevent infection.


Methods of sterilisation

There are various methods which are used b y sterile services departments, which include:

  • Chemicals: chemicals, including phenol, alcohols, chloroform, aldehydes, halides, dyes and quarternary ammonium compounds.
  • Heating: heating can sterilise certain things, for example, food can be reheated to a certain temperature to kill any bacteria or germs. Devices known as autoclaves are often used to sterilise dental and medical equipment; an autoclave sterilises equipment by subjecting it to high pressure steam.
  • Radiation
  • Boiling
  • Sterile filtration: this is a method of removing bacteria which may be used when other methods are not suitable.