Most of us learned the hard way that viruses, bacterias, and other harmful pathogens in the environment are not to be taken for granted. With the Covid-19 pandemic striking the world like a bullet, we know how important it is to save ourselves from such alien substances that are fatal to our health. Unlike most of us, medical professionals knew the importance of avoiding these pathogens for our well being.
Aseptic technique is a procedure or steps of precautions/rules taken by healthcare professionals to prevent such contamination. This technique is used in every place where people are at risk of coming in contact with such pathogens. Some of these places include clinics, operation theatres, outpatient care centres, and many such health care settings. This article aims at highlighting the importance, steps, and complications of this technique.
Read on to learn everything about it!
What is the purpose of the aseptic technique?
The meaning of aseptic is the absence of germs and pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and disease-causing microorganisms. The purpose of the aseptic technique lies in the meaning of its name. This technique is used by medical professionals while tending to wounds that are susceptible to getting infected by the presence of so many pathogens around them. The aseptic technique prevents infections from such pathogens.
When there is a break-in in the skin due to an accident, abrasion, surgical cuts, and other similar events, it becomes susceptible to infection. Skin is the primary defence mechanism of the body to prevent itself from diseases that need to be treated to prevent further damage inside the body.
Aseptic technique is used by professionals to prevent their patients from getting infected by a pathogen through them. These are called healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs). It is very common for hospital patients to contact a pathogen through a healthcare professional. Statistics say that almost 1 in every 30 patients in a hospital will be infected from HCAI.
Some common types of HCAIs include catheter-associated UTIs, surgical site infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, central-line-associated bloodstream infection, and clostridium difficile infection. HCAIs are a cause of concern for the healthcare community not only because of the grave complications it causes in the lives of patients but also because it raises disciplinary questions on the medical facilities of a hospital.
There are many types of aseptic techniques ranging from alcohol sterilization only, to the use of full sterile equipment like gloves, gowns, and face masks (full surgical asepsis).
Let us look at when some of these techniques are used by professionals to contain such HCAIs
- While handling surgical equipment like scalpels, forgers, scissors, retractors, and many more. And while performing surgical procedures.
- While using instruments to conduct any kind of vaginal examination which includes delivering a baby by vaginal delivery method.
- Tending to wounds, cuts, and burns and dressing them.
- While performing biopsies
- While handling equipment like catheters, chest tubes, central intravenous and arterial lines, and draining devices that need to be inserted inside the body.
- While inserting injection needles in the body.
- While performing dialysis.
Aseptic technique benefits and types
Sometimes asepsis is confused with sterile technique or surgical asepsis but they are both quite different from each other. There are mainly four types of aseptic techniques used commonly for the prevention of passage of pathogens from healthcare professionals to patients. Let’s elaborate on these techniques one by one
Barriers is a technique in which a kind of barrier is created between the patient, the professional, and the environment using certain equipment. These equipment are known as aseptic barriers. These barriers are sterile and have not touched any contaminated surface.
They are packaged and cleaned in such a way that minimizes their exposure to germs. Aseptic barriers include sterile gloves, sterile drapes, sterile gowns, face masks for healthcare professionals and the patient, and protective packaging and sterile wrappers.
There are certain guidelines that healthcare professionals should adhere to while tending to patients. These guidelines include wearing the sterile barriers, washing the hands properly, not touching any contaminated surfaces especially after donning their protective barrier.
If sterilized equipment touches a contaminated surface or equipment, then it should be sterilized properly again before using it on any patient or any other person. This is a must for avoiding contact with pathogens.
The surroundings of the patient should be carefully monitored before performing any kind of procedure on them. It should be made sure that the immediate surroundings are aseptic, this designated ideal environment is called the aseptic field.
To maintain an aseptic field the professional should remember to close the doors, limiting the number of people and movement inside the aseptic field. There should be at most one or two healthcare professionals and at most one patient inside the field.
4.Patient and equipment preparation
It is mandatory for healthcare professionals to prepare themselves, equipment, and the patient before starting any kind of medical procedure. Patient and equipment preparation procedure includes using antiseptic wipes to disinfect the skin of the patient, donning the aseptic barrier and adhering to contact guidelines, keeping the equipment inside a sterilized wrapper, and keeping the contaminated equipment separate from sterilized equipment.
Open skin is also an open invitation to pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and harmful microorganisms. There is no kind of cuts that are not susceptible to infections. Even the cuts made on the body by professionals like surgery cuts are prone to infections. It is important for your health that these precautions and steps are carried on by health professionals to avoid any kind of infection.
After surgery procedures, your body is already weak and needs healing time. By using aseptic techniques medical professionals make sure that your immunity system is only fighting to heal your body from the aftermath of surgery and focus on healing instead of fighting other infections that you might contaminate due to external environmental factors.
It is also beneficial for the health professionals to adhere to this technique as it saves them the back-breaking consequences if a patient catches HCAI.
The aseptic technique is very important for the well-being of the health community. Since you are educated on the importance of the aseptic technique, make sure that all the health professionals that you come across are following this technique and make your contribution to a healthy and safe community!