With the advancement of technologies, and the need for greater accountability, John Prendergast, senior Decontamination engineer, , discusses the current training systems for engineers working on equipment used to decontaminate medical devices.
He asks: ‘How can we, as professionals, assist, and how do we consider raising standards to ensure that we educate the next generation of engineers working within the decontamination industry?’
Back in the day each hospital had engineers on site, trained through industry apprenticeships – who could maintain steam sterilisation plant and much more – that a were positioned within Sterile Service Units and the wider hospital network. Many of these engineers, who had an empathy with such equipment, migrated to manufacturers, and formed the knowledge base for our industry over many years. Machinery was mechanical or electrical, with basic control systems that could often be overridden by maverick personnel (both engineers and users). Guidance was basic, although in some ways more practical, with better explanations (HTM 10). However, it is fair to say the governance and accountabilities were far less than in today’s litigation-fired society.
Since those days, decontamination has grown to become a science in its own right, medical equipment has become more technical, with improved safety systems, and the equipment used to decontaminate surgical and medical instruments has become highly complex, as standards, guidance, and requirements, have increased. Additional equipment has come into being, all of which requires maintenance and validation to precise standards.
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