Marrying containers and baskets may not be an industry standard yet, but its benefits show why more hospitals are embracing the practice.

Marrying containers is defined as permanently matching a specific inner basket to its coordinating rigid container. For example, a “Tonsil & Adenoid Tray #3” inner basket would be paired with the “Tonsil & Adenoid Tray #3” rigid container. The term marrying is used because it’s more permanent than just matching or pairing; once an inner basket is married to a container, they stay together permanently rather than just for one processing cycle as is customary with matching and pairing.

At the end of the day, the decision to marry specific baskets to their rigid containers is up to the hospitals. However, because of the many different benefits that labeling and marrying the inner basket to its rigid container offers, we consider it to be best practice. Here are a few of the benefits that your hospital can reap by marrying rigid containers to inner baskets.

Rigid Container Accuracy

Baskets and rigid containers come in all shapes and sizes. Containers can be square or rectangular, and they all come in different depths. Typically, employees who have been with a hospital for a long period of time naturally know which basket goes in which size container, but new employees have no idea and therefore must repeatedly ask for assistance. But sometimes these new employees simply guess, which leads to mistakes.

Sterile storage space is usually very tight with no extra shelf space. If the Tonsil & Adenoid trays are in their correct container, technicians can stack three on the shelf. However, if someone uses a basket that is an inch deeper than what is needed, only two can fit on the shelf. The third pan then doesn’t have any storage space or the tray that’s in the wrong basket will need to be reprocessed. All of this results in added expenses and work, and could possibly even delay surgical procedures.


Because the sterile processing area is so fast-paced, technicians are often faced with a workload that is larger than they can handle. To cut down on that workload and keep staff on schedule, sterile processing should take advantage of any possible opportunities of achieving increased efficiency.

Through the use of marrying containers, the rigid container receives a permanent label that matches the inner basket, allowing staff to quickly identify which inner basket belongs to which rigid container. This ease of use is especially helpful when technicians need to quickly prioritize trays for processing.

Although the time saved in each individual instance of container assembly might seem small, when added up over even just a week of reprocessing, it’s clear to see just how much valuable time technicians save with the efficiency that permanent labels and marrying containers provides.

Accuracy in your assembly and time savings in your sterile processing department aren’t the only benefits that you can gain by marrying inner baskets to rigid containers. Check back in two weeks for part two of this series to see even more benefits that this practice can provide to your department and your entire hospital.

Author: Kelly Swails MA, CRCST, CHL, CIS, ST


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ANSI/AAMI ST79, Comprehensive guide to steam sterilization and sterility assurance in health care facilities. 2017

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Laundry and textile hygiene in healthcare and beyond. July 1, 2019.

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Study of bacterial flora associated with mobile phones of healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers. June 9, 2017.

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If you like this post, check out these:

  • AAMI. Annex I: Development of a prepurchase evaluation protocol for rigid sterilization container systems.
  • All You Need to Know About Rigid Sterilization Containers.
  • Don’t Get Weighed Down by Instrument Sets That Are Too Heavy.
  • V.Mueller Genesis™ Reusable Rigid Sterilization Container System Operator’s Manual. file:///C:/Users/swailsk/Downloads/SU_Genesis-Container-Operator-Manual_UG_EN.pdf