World Sterilisation Congress Bonn 2017

Observations from the 18th World Sterilisation Congress (Bonn, October 2017)

Let’s talk science first because how clean is clean is unclear – still

Christin Denis opened the session about the instrument cleaning saying that cleaning is the most important and the most problematic decontamination process. This year’s World Sterilisation Congress included a lot of discussion about the comparison of allowable contamination limits at talks of Wayne Spencer and Gerhard Krimse as well as contamination evaluation methods. It is clear this is a major problem as the further reduce the limits the more difficult it gets to detect contamination – experts do not agree, and different approached are still used. Whether we take fluorescence methods heavily lobbied by the HTM 01-01 in the UK or elution methods used on da Vinci instruments in the experiments described by Winfred Michels there are always trade-offs. We need much more comparative research into meaningful comparisons between these methods but more importantly, develop more robust methods for direct in-situ measurement of residual proteins.

On the one hand, it is great that so much discussion is created around these complex instruments but what worries me is the fact that those discussions look at the automated cleaning as a black box concept. It probably stems from the general lack of an in-depth understanding of automated processes but unfortunately leads to in my opinion wrong conclusions – especially when it comes to contrasting them with manual cleaning methods. I would have hoped that such comparisons would put pressure on the R&D to develop equipment that takes over manual reprocessing and puts them under the umbrella of validated, repeatable processes – sadly we are still discussing how to improve on the manual tasks.

We need much more comparative research into meaningful comparisons between [contamination detection] methods but more importantly, develop more robust methods for direct in-situ measurement of residual proteins.Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski, founder of Aseptium

The rise of sophisticated IT systems

A fascinating talk was presented by Mirco Vitr on the use of smart glasses in the Sterile Services setting. Augmented reality in Sterile Services is something that will bring positive results once the technology matures a little as at the moment both hardware and software are in the early days of development and unsuccessful commercialisation of the Google Glass shows that technology will have to go through several iterations to offer true value. Nevertheless, immersive technologies are in the centre of our attention at Aseptium, and we are already developing solutions for remote assistance and education. Smart glasses will get incorporated in the wave of the Internet of Things systems that will merge with other IT systems like instrument tracking, internal logistics and inventory management etc. – that I think is the way we are going to achieve a lot of productivity and performance improvements.

World Sterilisation Congress Bonn 2017 welcome billboard
World Sterilisation Congress Bonn 2017 one of the lectures

Overall Experience

World Sterilisation Congress in Bonn was very well organised and packed with interesting lectures end exhibitions – the level of talks and presentations (with few exceptions) was very good – certainly best of all the decontamination events in the last two years. The programme allowed browsing exhibitor’s stands in between talks and engage with further discussions and networking. It was as international as it could be with visitors and speakers from around the globe – a true World Sterilisation Congress. Kudos to the WFHSS and DGSV for creating a great event. Mexico, you are up!


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About the Author

Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski

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Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski MBA, MSc, BSc is a research and development specialist focusing on innovation within decontamination sciences. He’s been involved in R&D since 2007, designing equipment, processes and methodologies for cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation of surgical instruments as well as medical and laboratory equipment.