This is What MDRTs Do Each Day on The Job

Sterile Processing Technicians Job Duties

Medical Device Reprocessing Technicians (MDRTs), also known as sterile processing technicians, maintain the sterility of medical equipment. Their role is to ensure that all surgical instruments and medical devices are properly processed to reduce the risk of infection and contamination. Keep reading to learn what they do, the safety protocols they follow and the science behind sterilization techniques. 

What Skills Are Needed to Be an MDRT? 

An MDRT must possess a thorough understanding of microbiology. Knowledge of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi helps determine the appropriate sterilization methods.  

Importantly, attention to detail is needed to adhere to protocols and completely remove contaminants. Mistakes in this job can be life-altering, so there is very little room for error. Additionally, technical skills are required for operating and maintaining complex sterilization equipment.  

And like most positions, effective communication and teamwork are central to getting the job done right. MDRTs work closely with surgical and medical teams to ensure the timely availability of sterile instruments. 

What Gets Contaminated and How is It Dealt With? 

Sterile processing technicians handle a variety of medical instruments and devices that can become contaminated with harmful pathogens. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Surgical Instruments: These are frequently exposed to blood, tissues, and other bodily fluids. Contamination can occur during surgeries or medical procedures. 
  • Endoscopes and Other Diagnostic Tools: These devices come into direct contact with mucous membranes and internal tissues, making them high-risk for contamination. 
  • Reusable Medical Equipment: Items such as catheters, ventilator components, and dialysis machines also pose contamination risks due to their repeated use. 

To manage contaminants, MDRTs follow a systematic approach: initial cleaning removes debris, disinfection kills most pathogens, thorough inspection checks for residual contamination or damage, and sterilization eradicates all remaining microorganisms. 

Sterilization Techniques for Different Types of Equipment 

Different types of medical equipment require specific sterilization techniques to ensure their safety and functionality: 

  1. Autoclaving: This technique uses steam under pressure to sterilize heat-resistant items such as surgical instruments and metal tools. The high temperature and pressure effectively kill all microorganisms. 
  1. Chemical Sterilization: For heat-sensitive items, such as certain plastics and electronics, chemical sterilants like ethylene oxide or hydrogen peroxide are used. These chemicals penetrate surfaces to kill microorganisms without damaging the equipment. 
  1. Ultrasonic Cleaning: This method uses high-frequency sound waves to create microscopic bubbles that dislodge debris from instruments. It’s often a preliminary step before final sterilization. 
  1. Dry Heat Sterilization: Used for items that can withstand high temperatures but not moisture, such as powders and oils. Dry heat effectively kills bacteria and spores through oxidation. 
  1. Radiation Sterilization: Utilizes UV rays, gamma rays or electron beams for disposable medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. It penetrates packaging, ensuring sterility without high heat or moisture. 

Safety Protocols in Sterile Processing 

Patient safety might be the central goal of medical device reprocessing, but the technicians need to be extra mindful in the face of so much exposure. That’s why MDRTs follow strict infection control protocols, using PPE like gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection to protect against pathogens.  

They adhere to standardized procedures from cleaning to packaging and receive regular training to stay updated on best practices. Accurate records of sterilization cycles and equipment maintenance ensure traceability and accountability, allowing for a prompt resolution of any issues. 

Start Your Career as an MDRT with ABES College 

Do you love keeping things clean? ABES College offers comprehensive MDRT programs that provide you with the knowledge and hands-on experience needed to excel in this vital healthcare role. Learn from experienced professionals and gain the skills necessary to make a difference in patient care. 

Visit ABES College today to learn more about our MDRT program and take the first step towards a fulfilling career in healthcare. Contact our admissions team today!