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What Does a Sterilization Technician Do?

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  • Written By: Nick Mann
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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A sterilization technician plays an important role in keeping tools and instruments safe for medical use. Basically, it's his job to sterilize items like scalpels, forceps and tweezers prior to their use for surgery or other procedures. Since his job performance ultimately affects the health and well-being of patients, it's important for him to be knowledgeable and very detailed. Generally speaking, a person must complete a technical program of study and become certified before becoming a sterilization technician. Some typical duties of this position include inspecting medical equipment, sterilizing a variety of tools, keeping records, transporting tools and keeping track of inventory.

Inspecting medical equipment on a routine basis is an important part of this profession. For example, things like defibrillators, respiratory ventilators, oxygen tanks and anesthesia machines all need to be checked for cleanliness and functioning. To keep a medical facility operating efficiently, this technician might check different equipment parts for performance and to make sure everything is properly connected. In addition, he might need to wipe down and clean various machines.

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Perhaps the most important responsibility of this job is sterilizing a variety of tools. Anything used in surgery or other medical procedures must be safely sterilized before coming into contact with a patient. Consequently, it's mandatory for a sterilization technician to follow safety guidelines and check each tool prior to a medical procedure. In many cases, this involves using an autoclave to heat tools to high temperatures. For some facilities, he might also be responsible for sterilizing patients' hospital beds as well.

Along with this, it's often necessary for a sterilization technician to keep detailed records. For example, after placing surgical tools into an autoclave, he might need to document the process. He may also have a cleaning checklist to go through during each shift to ensure that all other equipment is properly cleaned. Performing these duties well is critical, so a sterilization must be organized and detailed.

After tools have been successfully sterilized, an individual will usually transport them to the necessary department. Essentially, this involves bringing tools to a particular surgery room prior to the procedure. In some cases, the technician may also deliver certain items to a patient's home.

Additionally, this position often requires a person to keep track of inventory. Besides cleaning and sterilizing items, he must ensure that there is an adequate amount of tools available for upcoming medical procedures. When items are running low, it's up to the sterilization technician to order more before running out.

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