Image courtesy of IAHCSMM

Sterilization science has come a long way since Louis Pasteur first pioneered the germ theory—and so has medical technology. New innovations in medical technology with fabricated materials and electronic components are now used alongside traditional scalpels and other metal tools. Endoscopes allow surgeons to view the inside of patients, while ophthalmologists use foot pedals during procedures. And as medical technology continues to change, sterilization processes—and the science behind them—work to keep up, ensuring that SPDs are keeping patients safe throughout procedures.

This fall, events in Europe and around the world are celebrating the sterilization science of today and the work of SPD staff who put that science into action. Here’s what’s happening and how you can get involved:

20th World Sterilization Congress

October 30 through November 2, sterilization scientists and professionals will convene in The Hague, The Netherlands, for the 20th annual World Sterilization Congress. The conference meets in a different country each year (it’s previously taken place in Mexico City; Brisbane, Australia; and Prague, to name a few), and this year, its presence in The Netherlands coincides with the 20th anniversary of the World Federation for Hospital Sterilisation Sciences (WFHSS) which hosts the conference, as well as the 20th anniversary of vDSMH and the 50th anniversary of SVN, two Dutch medical sterilization associations.

Congress is the largest annual gathering in the sterilization space and aims to connect sterilization experts in order to promote information sharing and advance the overall knowledge of sterilization science and practices. A preliminary program outlines presentations on everything from endoscope reprocessing, medical device regulation, and the efficacy of steam sterilization to automation and robotics in sterile processing and the current status of central sterile service departments in China. Presentations will be delivered by scientists studying sterilization as well as SPD managers who are on the frontlines of sterile reprocessing.

How to Get Involved

Registration for the Congress is open through October 29, but standard registration offers a better rate than onsite registration and closes on October 28. Learn more and register.

International Central Service Week

October 13–19 is International Central Service Week (ICSW), a global celebration of the work done in central service units, or SPDs, throughout the medical world. Promoted by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM), ICSW shines a spotlight on the often unseen, overlooked work of sterilization reprocessing professionals. IAHCSMM encourages medical organizations and individual SPDs to use the week to reward and support central processing. 

How to Get Involved

Social media posts that highlight how SPDs keep patients safe, internal department tours or open houses that allow hospital employees to see the inner workings of the SPD, and outreach programs in schools and communities that explain the work of SPDs are just a few ways you can celebrate ICSW and call outside attention to the crucial work of your SPD. 

IAHCSMM also encourages departments to spend this week celebrating department successes from the last year, recognizing outstanding SPD staff, and offering professional development opportunities to support the next year of work. You can also write to your elected officials in order to educate them about medical sterilization and inform them about policy needs that impact your work. Central processing themed gifts are also a welcome bonus for your staff.

There’s always more to learn when it comes to sterilization processes and improving patient safety. If you participate in these events, make sure your participation serves as just the beginning for increasing knowledge and spreading the word about the work your SPD does best.

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