Center For Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines
The most recent update of guidelines for disinfection and sterilization in healthcare facilities was published by the CDC in 2008. This publication, a PDF copy is available at:
In the United States approximately 46.5 million surgical procedures and even more invasive medical procedures are performed each year. Each procedure involves contact by a medical device or surgical instrument with a patient’s sterile tissue or mucous membranes. A major risk of all such procedures is the introduction of pathogens that can lead to infection. Failure to properly disinfect or sterilize equipment carries not only risk associated with breach of host barriers but also risk for person-to-person transmission and transmission of environmental pathogens.
Disinfection and sterilization are essential for ensuring that medical and surgical instruments do not transmit infectious pathogens to patients. Because sterilization of all patient-care items is not necessary, health-care policies must identify, primarily on the basis of the items' intended use, whether cleaning, disinfection, or sterilization is indicated.
Multiple studies in many countries have documented a lack of compliance with established guidelines for disinfection and sterilization. Failure to comply with scientifically-based guidelines has led to numerous outbreaks.
Medical devices that have contact with sterile body tissues or fluids are considered critical items. These items should be sterile when used because any microbial contamination could result in disease transmission.