The Aseptic Technique

Aseptic technique is a technique that is used to prevent or minimize risk of introducing harmful microorganisms into a sterile area of the body during procedures that breach the body’s natural defenses.

The basic aim of the aseptic technique is to prevent a wound and other susceptible body sites from getting contaminated as this can lead to an infection.

These kind of techniques should be always used during an invasive procedure that by-passes the body’s natural defenses such as the skin or the mucous membrane.

Also note that asepsis needs to be maintained during handling of equipment before carrying out an invasive procedure. Equipment such as sterile equipment used for suturing of a wound, wound care dressings, intravenous cannulae and urinary catheters.

One should understand that although maintaining sterility is very difficult but it is important that contamination of sterile equipment is prevented.

It is the duty of health care workers to safeguard the wellbeing of their patients and bad asepsis can result in a high risk of cross transmission of microorganisms from the hands of the health care worker and/or the equipment to the wound site on the patient. This should not be taken easy as a contamination can result in serious life threatening infections.

Indications that aseptic technique is required include:

– Suturing of lacerations.

– Dressing of wounds that are in the process of healing via primary intention. Wounds such as surgical wounds, burns, lacerations, which includes self-harm injuries.

– During the process of removing sutures or drains from a wound.

– Dressing of wounds that are in the process of healing via secondary intention; wounds such as pressure sores, leg ulcers and grazes.

– Insertion or resetting of an invasive device such as intravenous line during ECT or a urinary catheter.

– Manipulating or dressing an invasive device.

– during the process of extracting a urine sample from a urinary catheter.

Sterile procedures should be carried out in a clean clinical treatment room or at the patient’s bedside as studies have revealed that the environment may be contaminated with microorganisms.

Harmful microorganisms including meticillin Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA have been found on various surfaces. In addition to this all dressings should be stored in a clean and dry place above floor level.

It is more likely that an infection is spread after cleaning, bed making or other high activity times in the clinical area. This is why it is advised that aseptic measures be carried out at least 30 minutes after bed making.