You may be wondering why we are calling point-of-use cleaning the “foundation” of clean. Can pre-cleaning really be that important and significant, that the whole house comes tumbling down without its foundation? Well, here are just a few of the reasons this step is not one you’ll want to skip:
Instruments that are not pre-cleaned have the opportunity to dry during transport and staging. If you’ve worked in Sterile Processing or Scope Reprocessing for long, you know that dried soil is much harder to remove. Dried protein and blood bond tightly to instruments by fibrin strands.
Dried soils contribute to biofilm development, especially in lumens and channels. Once a biofilm has been formed, it can be nearly impossible to remove in a difficult-to-reach spot like a scope lumen.
Blood is high in salts and is very corrosive. Dried blood presents a serious risk to the integrity of the instrument, capable of causing irreparable damage to the instrument. Once instrument surfaces and channels begin to rust and form pitting, there is not a safe way to restore the metal surface to a smooth, cleanable surface again.
For all of these reasons, pre-cleaning is a high priority in device manufacturer IFUs (Instructions for Use). You will often find instructions for how the device needs to be pre-cleaned during and after use to prevent damage to the instrument.