technique is a procedure used by medical staff to prevent the spread of
infection. The goal is to reach asepsis,
which means an environment that is free of harmful microorganisms. Each
healthcare setting has its own set of practices for achieving asepsis. Common
examples include surgery rooms, clinics, and outpatient care centers.
What Is Aseptic Technique Used For?
Aseptic technique is used in
various clinical settings to prevent the spread of pathogens. Like another antimicrobial
process called clean technique, the
primary goal of this process is to prevent harmful organisms from spreading and
causing infection. The difference is aseptic technique reduces the risks of
infection in the patient directly at the source. Clean technique is more
focused on preventing the further spread of pathogens between other people and
Aseptic technique is commonly
- vaginal labor
- intravenous (IV)
- other draining
Types of Aseptic Techniques
Clean equipment is a primary
form of aseptic technique. Certain equipment, such as needles, should always be
disposed of between patients. Reusing needles and other disposable equipment
can lead to a host of issues. Other types of equipment must be cleaned properly
through aseptic techniques for safety. Sterilization methods include:
- electric or gas
Simple hand washing is
another important form of aseptic technique. Ensuring that all medical staff
washes their hands before and after any procedure helps to prevent the spread
of pathogens that can cause infections in patients.
The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) offers other basic rules for infection prevention:
- better staff
training on aseptic techniques
- use of chlorhexidine
(an antiseptic) for post-catheter care
ointment to be used on IV line exits
- proper bandaging
- wearing masks to
prevent germs from spreading from the mouth through the air
Aseptic Technique Benefits
Anytime your skin is opened,
you’re vulnerable to infection. This is why prompt treatment for burns and
wounds is so critical. If the exposure is intentional, such as in surgery, then
the risk for infection still exists. The way aseptic techniques are employed
can determine whether or not you will develop an infection from your procedure.
One of the most common
infections stems from C. difficile. This
is a bacteria that costs an estimated 14,000 American lives every year (Medline Plus).
Part of this is attributed to failures in following aseptic techniques. Another
problem is a lack of trained infection prevention staff.
Aseptic Technique Complications
A lack of enforced aseptic
techniques can lead to a host of problems for patients. Infections of the blood
and urinary tract are the most common. Other patients may experience infections
at the site of performed surgeries. Not only are these types of infections emotional
and financial burdens, certain infections may also turn fatal. Medline Plus
reported in 2013 that bloodstream infections have increased 51 percent over the
last 20 years (Medline Plus).
According to the CDC, at
least 30 reports of hepatitis outbreaks were reported in healthcare settings
between 2001 and 2011 (CDC). While
more research is needed to determine the precise causes of such outbreaks,
principles of aseptic technique can help minimize these incidents.
Aseptic Technique Outcome
The outcome of aseptic
technique depends on whether all procedures are thoroughly followed. Medical
professionals are responsible for following all processes leading to asepsis.
If you notice that a healthcare provider fails to wash hands or sterilize
equipment, don’t be afraid to speak up. Doing so can help save you or a loved
one from potentially fatal side effects.