Sterile means free from germs. When you care for your catheter or surgery wound, you need to take steps to avoid spreading germs. Some cleaning and care procedures need to be done in a sterile way so that you do not get an infection. Carefully follow all of the steps below to keep your work area sterile.
You will need:
Wash your hands well and keep all work surfaces clean and dry at all times. When you handle supplies, touch only the outside wrappers with your bare hands. You may need to wear a mask over your nose and mouth.
Keep your supplies within your reach so you do not drop or rub against them while you go through the steps. If you need to cough or sneeze, turn your head away from your supplies and cover your mouth firmly with the crook of your elbow.
To open a sterile pad or kit:
Your gloves may be separate or inside the kit. To get your gloves ready:
Once your gloves are on, do not touch anything except your sterile supplies. If you do touch something else, remove the gloves, wash your hands again, and go through the steps to open and put on a new pair of gloves.
Call your doctor if you are having trouble using the sterile technique.
Perry AG, Potter PA. Sterile technique. In: Perry AG, Potter PA. Clinical Nursing Skills and Techniques. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 8.
Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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