A wet pack in a clinical setting is a very serious issue. The wet load, by law, cannot be used and must be re-processed. This, in turn, causes the hospital or surgical center to fall behind in its daily routine. These inefficiencies are costly and often highly emotional.
In most cases the root cause of the wet loads is due to poor steam quality.
Often the end users believe their problems are due to a malfunction with the steam sterilizer itself!
Poor steam quality is usually caused by the inadequate design of the steam system, including the following factors:
- Long piping runs from the in-house boiler to the sterilizer(s) with one or more “dead legs” (one temporary piping run was over 300 feet)
- Lack of a bucket steam trap placed in the proper physical relationship to the sterilizer
- Lack of a steam separator placed in the proper physical relationship to the sterilizer
- Steam pressure not up to specification
This can be easily avoided if the proper attention to steam quality is provided early in the project (well before installation and start-up).
Again, discussions and agreements prior to installation will be the key to a well functioning sterilization process.