Biotec Custom Steri-Centers: Sterility assurance for any size practice

Infection Control

By Howard Sorenson, vice president of sales, Porter Royal Sales Group

Sterility assurance depends on good design of the space designated for instrument processing.

First and foremost, steri-centers must be designed to comply with OSHA and CDC standards. In addition, a well-designed steri-center facilitates organization, efficient processing of dental instruments and the quick turnover of dental instrument setups.

In many cases, traditional straight-line steri-centers work very well. But older, U-shaped centers, which do double duty as supply storage areas, do not! That said, the use of modular dental cabinetry and some custom-built modules can make any size or shape of space become a functional efficient steri-center. And with the growth of larger group practices and DSO-type facilities, many practices require a mega-sized steri-center to accommodate the flow of staff and trays. A well-designed steri-center should incorporate the systemized processing of instruments, the use of cassettes, and protocols for color coding of instruments, handling biohazardous materials, cleaning instruments and storing sterile instrument setups.

Some points to consider when designing a steri-center include:

  • Is the current steri-center in need of a face lift?
  • How many procedures does the dental practice perform each day?
  • What is the current protocol for procedure setups? (Using instrument cassettes not only saves time, but will reduce the amount of space required.)
  • How does the practice currently process its handpieces?
  • Do the material setup tubs match the practice’s instrument setups?
  • How does the practice dispose of biohazardous materials?

It’s important to determine where to bring contaminated instruments into the steri-center, as well as where to leave sterile, ready-for-use instruments. In addition, it’s important to measure the space and identify electrical outlets, as well as where plumbing and lighting will go. (If necessary, is it possible to move any of these utilities?)

The large group practice

Designed by Biotech Inc

The large practice presents a unique set of challenges for a private practitioner. Given the magnitude of instruments that require processing, and the movement of staff entering and exiting the sterilization center, the space must be well designed to maximize efficiency and guarantee efficacy.

In one particular case, for instance, Biotech, Inc. created a steri-center with two entries: a pass-through from the hallway outside the space at one end for receiving contaminated trays, and a pass-through at the other end of the steri-center for the sterile trays to be picked up for use with the next patients. This design greatly minimized the staff traffic in and out of the work space.

Another possible bottleneck is having a single sink in these large practice steri-centers.  Having a double sink with two faucets, multiple Hydrim type washers, and ultrasonic cleaners need to be considered to prevent one area of the instrument processing from slowing down the recycle time.

Sufficiently analyzing the work flow and procedures completed at the practice, as well as consulting with the staff that does the instrument processing, help ensure the final steri-center design is best suited to each particular practice.