For manufactured supplies, to assure sterility:
- Do not use if protective covering is damaged, for example:
- the plastic covering the needle hub is gone.
- the syringe case seal has been broken.
- the plastic wrap has been punctured.
- Do not use on animals past the expiration date.
- Use of expired medical supplies other than in terminal surgeries is not consistent with standards of veterinary practice.
- OLAW and USDA expect us to follow standards of veterinary practice.
- Do not use if materials have been wet or are visibly soiled, or have been stored improperly, such as under a sink or on the floor of a truck.
- Store in closed containers if possible (e.g., closed cabinets, plastic tubs, zipper-lock plastic bags).
For multi-use supplies (e.g., surgical instruments), to assure sterility:
- Sterile surgery packs or peel packs stored in open shelving are considered sterile for 6 months from sterilization date.
- Proper storage of sterile supplies is in closed containers. All cloth/paper drape-wrapped packs stored correctly (e.g., in closed containers) are only good for one year from the date of sterilization until/unless an event causes them to become contaminated (see list below). Properly stored (e.g., in closed containers) unopened autoclaved or gas-sterilized peel packs are considered sterile indefinitely until/unless an event causes them to become contaminated (see list below).
Examples of events that can result in contamination:
- Package is torn, punctured, or otherwise compromised.
- Package is taken to an animal room (and if it is, it must be re-autoclaved).
- Package has debris on the outside (e.g., blood, dirt).
- Storage area has evidence of vermin/insects.
- All packs must have sterilization dates to assure they can be identified in the event sterilization should fail (e.g., autoclave did not get up to proper temperature).
- All packs should be inspected before use. When in doubt, resterilize before use.
- Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities. William A. Rutala, PhD, MPH; David J. Webber, MD, MPH; and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. CDC, November 2008