10 years ago, our preferred method of marking was laser etching. But the more we worked with the mark, the more we realized the dangers and liabilities associated with it. So, we started searching for a new kind of mark that would be completely risk-free for facilities while still delivering a durable mark that aids in tracking instruments to the patient level. Here are a few of the risks that we experienced during our days of laser marking.
1. Physical Change to the Instrument Surface
Laser etching applies its mark by putting a groove into the surface of the instrument. This mark goes through the passivation layer, which then requires facilities to apply a protective layer over it. Because laser applies actual grooves in the surface of the instrument, the mark can lead to many other problems that can make the mark ineffective and even pose a risk to patient safety.
2. Water Mineral Content Impact
Scanners read laser marked instruments through the shadows that are created by the grooves in the instrument. When instruments are first marked, the accuracy of this reading isn’t a problem, however, over time the mineral content from the water, which varies from region to region, can cause mineral build-up in the instrument. This poses a problem, because that build-up fills in the grooves of the mark, preventing the shadows from being as readable to the scanner as they were when they were first marked. If the mineral content in a facility’s region is especially high, that mark could become unreadable after a period of time.
3. The Risk of Bio-Burden Buildup
Those same grooves that face the threat of mineral content buildup also face the threat of bio-burden buildup. While most facilities would say they combat this risk with a thorough and up-to-code Central Sterile department, the risk is still there. As long as the mark features grooves, the risk of bio-burden buildup is real.
That’s why, after years of using and implementing laser etching, we moved to a safer, more effective solution—an electro-chemical marking process (ECMP). This process applies a corrosion-free mark to the instrument by creating a 2-D electro chemical mark below the instrument’s passivation layer without altering the surface with etching or engraving. See how our mark measures up to other marks in the industry.
Plus, our mark minimizes the risk of human error and duplication during the marking process because our mark is applied with stencils compiled of unique marks rather than by a team member who is inputting the data to be laser etched on the instrument. Furthermore, the marking equipment doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, uses less hardware to implement, and is easy to train individuals to use. That’s why it was an easy decision for our company to make the switch from laser to electro-chemical marking.
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