Shortage Of Sterilization Wrap: What You Need To Know

shortage of sterilization wrap

Reports of a global shortage of sterilisation wraps haunt surgical wards and hospitals. This worldwide decline also affects Australia, and many feared that this shortage would preempt surgery cancellations and damage infection control policies. Let us learn more about the importance of sterilisation wraps in healthcare, their role in surgery, and why shortage of sterilization wrap threatens the world.

What is a Sterilisation Wrap?

Sterilisation wraps for surgical instruments are a foundational component of the operating room, whether for major or elective surgeries. This material allows the penetration of the sterilising agent during the autoclaving process.  It also provides protection against contact contamination during handling and is an effective barrier to microbial penetration. The use of sterile surgical instruments is a keystone of surgery, so sterile wraps definitely hold a vital role in healthcare.

Use of sterile wrap

Healthcare providers can maintain the sterility of surgical equipment in various ways, including rigid containers, plastic and paper peel pouches, and sterilising wraps (woven and nonwoven). And while most hospitals utilise all these packing methods, sterilising wraps are the most popular.

usage of sterilization wrapIn the past decades, hospitals and dental clinics have used muslin cloth as their sterile wraps. It has several advantages – economical, reusable, soft, and absorbent. However, the weaved fabric limited its ability to provide total protection against microbial penetration. This prompted hospitals and clinics to start using double sequential wrapping to prevent microbial contamination of the devices. It has become stronger and more durable to provide better protection and resist tears in recent years. It also comes in various sizes, making it an incredibly convenient and a heavily relied upon supply for Sterile Processing departments (SPDs). Currently, the sterile wrap form has a layered pattern made up of spunbond/melt-blown/spunbond (SMS) layers. These three thermally bonded layers make up this fabric: “spunbond” gives strength, while “meltblown” offers a barrier. These layers provide good microbiological contamination prevention.

Sterilisation Wrap Shortage

Global scarcity of disposable surgical equipment sterilisation wraps has lately impacted hospitals, dental clinics, and ambulatory surgery centres worldwide. Whether you need a major operation or a simple elective surgery, the need for alternate wrapper options for use in their sterile processing departments is indeed a must.

If you are still wondering what caused this shortage, we have a culprit: the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and face masks prompted a worldwide shortage of sterilising wrap material. Sterile wrap shortages vary by state and institution, but it affects both public and private systems.

This thick, paper-like, generally blue sterile sheet or covering is mainly used to wrap steel trays with clean equipment before sterilising them in an autoclave at very high temperatures. Many manufacturers also use a similar type of cloth to make surgical drapes and gowns. You can imagine the hassle of the surgical team performing their operations while maintaining contamination protocols and infection control if they do not have the appropriate protection themselves.

Exploring Alternatives

Authorities, like Queensland Health, need to act fast in addressing this scarcity. Suppose the sterilisation wrap shortage affects hospitals and ambulatory surgery centres like PPE shortages did. In that case, it’s easy to see how surgical programs will be significantly and negatively impacted. Wrapping sterile instruments in a special plastic, employing sterile stainless steel trays, and repackaging devices to save sterile wrap have all been suggested as alternatives.

sterilization and infection controlThe usage of rigid sterilisation containers is another alternative to sterilisation wrap. These are likewise available in various sizes, are manufactured by several companies, and provide a reusable, long-term solution for sterilising instruments. Many corporations have implemented rigid sterilisation containers in their SPD departments to decrease the quantity of sterilisation wrap required in their facilities. However, many of these containers will require a filter, which may be created from the same material as sterilisation wrap.

In spite of all these, manufacturers should be consulted with any questions or concerns about their products’ use, handling, or availability. Moreover, multidisciplinary purchasing committees should be formed to investigate the best options for the facility/healthcare organisation to help mitigate supply shortage risks.

The Need to Plan Ahead

It is essential for medical and dental institutions and healthcare organisations to properly manage their sterilisation wrap supply to maximise the benefits to patients and staff. This vital part of maintaining sterilisation and infection control on dental clinics and hospital grounds should be addressed as a requirement. The shortage should be investigated even after the epidemic has passed.

Remember that these shortages will jeopardise the delivery of patient care and may negatively affect the safety of healthcare workers if supply chain disruption is not appropriately controlled.

The good thing about Critical Dental is that we are a one-stop shop created to supply your dental clinic’s needs. If you are looking for a reliable supplier who can provide necessary dental equipment, instruments, and other clinic needs (like sterile sheets,) do not hesitate to reach out to us today. If you are interested to know more, please do not hesitate to browse our website. You can also call us at (02) 8883 0674 to talk to our friendly staff, who can willingly assist you in getting what your dental practice needs.


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