Peel pouches are commonly used for autoclaving single instruments or instruments per procedure within one pouch. A misconception is that the pouches can be sealed shut any old way as long as it appears sealed or that they can be folded to fit the instrument. Other times a pouch will be used that is not consistent with the size because the office ran out of the appropriate size. Example: a 5 1/4″X 10″ is used instead of a 3 1/2″ X 9″ and then folded to fit.
Why is this not preferable? I show this during my Infection Control classes as my party trick, but you can do this too. Take 2 pouches- fill about 1/2 full with water. Seal one on the perforation, straight across. The other- not quite on the perforation.
See image. Now, flip the one that is perfectly aligned upside down. No water should leak out. Do the same with the second one, water will escape. This means that the contents will not remain sterilized for any length of time. If sealed correctly, the manufacturer has determined that sterility will last for 9 months to 3 years, dependent on storage, humidity and handling.
If the pouch is folded halfway and then sealed, the same thing will occur.
Is everyone in your office doing this correctly?
In another blog, I will discuss why dating your pouches/blue wrap is important.