Inspection

The cleaning of instruments is an important part of the decontamination cycle, and if this is not done correctly then the rest of the process will fail.

Inspection

HTM 01-05 specifies that each instrument must be visually inspected after cleaning, and further recommends the use of an illuminated magnifier to improve the ease and efficiency of the inspection.

The reason why a visual inspection is required before sterilisation is to make sure that the cleaning process is removing staining and debris. If an instrument is not properly cleaned it may impede the sterilisation process. 

The cleaning of instruments is an important part of the decontamination cycle, and if this is not done correctly then the rest of the process will fail.

When inspecting instruments close attention should be given to areas where debris may build up. 

Instruments that are blunt, bent, damaged or show any signs of pitting or other corrosion should be discarded or, if appropriate, sent for repair.

There should be free movement of parts and joints should not stick.

The edges of clamping instruments should meet with no overlap. Teeth should mesh together.

Scissor edges should meet to the tip and move freely across each other with no overlap or rough edges.

All screws on jointed instruments should be tight and not loose during use.

Instruments should be inspected for any visible soiling such as blood or dental materials, especially joints, hinges or the serrated surfaces of jaws which are difficult to clean.

If instruments are not visually clean then they should be reprocessed through the cleaning stage again. If instruments are continually presented as contaminated then this may indicate a problem with the cleaning method.

If instruments are manually cleaned, fail results may be as a result of the method of cleaning. If manual cleaning is the only method used prior to sterilisation then this needs to be performed correctly. 

Instruments that are failing the visual inspection after processing through an automated cycle such as an ultrasonic cleaner or washer disinfector can be a result of the wrong detergent being used. The manufacturer usually recommends the type of detergent. The machine manual should specify if a certain detergent needs to be used. It is also possible that the failure of a visual inspection could be a fault with the machine itself. 

If instruments are to be pouched before being sterilised in a Type S or Type B autoclave, then they should be dried using a non-linting cloth and then moved onto the inspection process.