Suds, Steam and Standards – Demystifying Reprocessing Auditing

Ms Julie Johnson1,2, Ms Kim Comensoli1

1Northeast Health Wangaratta, Wangaratta, Australia,

2Yarrawonga Health, Yarrawonga, Australia

Sterilisation Services have come of age in the 21st Century – being recognised  and acknowledged as a specialty with a discrete knowledge base.. The release of the revised version of AS/NZS 4187 in 2014  reinforced and consolidated this, focusing the spotlight on the how, why and importance of reprocessing  reusable medical devices (RMDs).

Understanding the complexities and subtleties of reprocessing can be a challenge to Infection Prevention Practitioners(IPP) when the responsibly for auditing sterilising services suddenly becomes part of their role. Auditing  takes on a whole new perspective where suds, steam and standards combine to form a confusing mix of practices and processes distinctly different from fundamental infection prevention knowledge. Regional, rural and remote sites are most at risk in this process as they often do not have the support and access to resources required to accurately interpret the requirements of 4187. The authors have been involved in auditing both small and large  reprocessing facilities in rural areas over several years and provide a unique perspective to this complex and challenging dilemma. Reprocessing has a distinct and separate body of knowledge that needs to be understood without any blurring of the lines, IPPs can be in a situation where they literally “do not know, what they do not know”, this can lead to potentially catastrophic systems failure where patient safety is placed at risk.

The journey we share follows the challenges of demystifying  reprocessing and how to audit effectively, utilising a consultative approach and guidance from industry/ IPC experts.


Julie Johnson is an Infection Prevention Consultant currently working at a sub-regioanl health service and a small rural health service , both have robust sterilising services. She has many years experience as a clinician, manager and educator in perioperative /sterilising services. She is a Senior Member of the ACORN Faculty and lead co-author of several ACORN Standards. She has presented previously at ACIPC and ACORN National Conferences, as well as at State / Local Conferences on Sterilising Services and Infection Prevention..

Recent Comments