ST79: AAMI's Landmark Recommended Practice for Hospital Steam Sterilization
The AAMI recommended practice, Comprehensive guide to steam sterilization and sterility assurance in health care facilities, is a breakthrough standard in terms of its scope.
AAMI has updated ST79 with the release of ST79:2010/A4:2013. Of particular importance, A4:2013 provides four new figures demonstrating the wrapping of items for steam sterilization and adds an annex focused on Moisture assessment. As of Oct. 25, 2013, purchasers of ST79 will receive ANSI/AAMI ST79:2010 and A1:2010 and A2:2011 and A3:2012 and A4:2013 as a single consolidated document. Among other changes from the 2006 edition of ST79, this revised and expanded second edition of ST79 includes guidance on the use and application of Class 6 emulating indicators, a chemical monitoring device fairly new to the United States.
Because ST79 essentially consolidates five AAMI steam sterilization standards (whose content was reviewed and updated to reflect current good practice prior to being incorporated into ST79), it truly is a comprehensive guideline for all steam sterilization activities in healthcare facilities, regardless of the size of the sterilizer or the size of the facility, and provides a resource for all healthcare personnel who use steam for sterilization.
Saturated steam under pressure is one of the oldest methods used in healthcare facilities to sterilize medical devices. Because this method has been available for so many years, it is thought to be a simple process, one that is well understood and controlled. However, the efficacy of any sterilization process, including saturated steam, depends on a consistent system for 1) lowering and limiting bioburden before sterilization, 2) properly preparing items for sterilization, 3) selecting the appropriate sterilization parameters, and 4) establishing and implementing controls to maintain the sterility of sterilized items until they are used. These four critically interdependent phases provide the framework for ST79.
The Five Recommended Practices Incorporated into ST79
- ANSI/AAMI ST46, Steam sterilization and sterility assurance in health care facilities
- ANSI/AAMI ST42, Steam sterilization and sterility assurance using table-top sterilizers in office-based, ambulatory-care medical, surgical, and dental facilities
- ANSI/AAMI ST37, Flash sterilization: Steam sterilization of patient care items for immediate use
- ANSI/AAMI ST35, Safe handling and biological decontamination of medical devices in health care facilities and in nonclinical settings
- ANSI/AAMI ST33, Guidelines for the selection and use of reusable rigid sterilization container systems for ethylene oxide sterilization and steam sterilization in health care facilities
Immediate-Use Steam Sterilization Position Statement
This position statement has been adopted by AAMI, Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, AORN, APIC, ASC Quality Collaboration, AST, and IAHCSMM. It is included at the end of print and PDF copies of ST79 and is also available here.
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Published: October 2013
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