A Case of Habit & Expectations

Things that make you go hmmm…

We’ve all experienced an occasion where we shift into autopilot. Perhaps you are driving to visit a friend one morning and a short time later you find yourself pulling up to your work. Your brain followed its habitual driving route without you being conscious of it. You’ve probably heard about children accidentally calling a teacher Mom or Dad because of associations made among authority figures in a child’s life. Our expectations, habits, and biases can be invisible to us until pointed out by others, and then they seem glaringly obvious. Consider this recent example.

The Origin

Recently, a customer called us because they had been struggling with a stubborn residue on their medical instruments and devices. The residue was caused by the gel based cleaner they were using. This customer indicated that they were accustomed to a certain amount of trace residue, but the problem had gotten out of hand.  The residue was thick and hardened to the point that complete removal was almost impossible.

Being familiar with our Case Solutions® product line, they understood that we formulate our cleaners to be dye free, fragrance free, gel free, and free rinsing. The customer asked if we could provide a non-enzymatic pre-cleaner that would eliminate the challenges they faced with their current product.

Case Medical responded by providing the customer with CasePrep® Non-Enzymatic Pre-Cleaner, a non-enzymatic version of our popular PentaPrep® Mutli-Enzymatic Pre-Cleaner.  After only one load, instruments treated at point-of-use with the CasePrep solution showed no sign of trace residue. Objective achieved, right? Not quite.

The Unexpected

After months of using a gel based cleaner, those using the product at point-of-use and receiving the instruments in decontamination considered the presence of trace residue from a gel based cleaner to be visual evidence that the devices had been pre-cleaned. Without the presence of residue, they were concerned that there would be no visual evidence that a pre-cleaner had been used on the instruments.

With this unexpected feedback, several lines of discussion resulted: Should we add a dye to the CasePrep solution? What is the purpose of an effective pre-cleaner? How would an accreditation organization view the process and the results?

The Outcome

When we stepped back, examined expectations, and discussed amongst the team, we came to these simple conclusions.

  1. Our commitment to cleaners formulated with the safest ingredients, with no added dyes, fragrances, or other unnecessary additives, is core to who we are as a company and what we believe about caring for personnel, patients, and the planet.
  2. The purpose of pre-cleaning is to remove gross soil and prevent the formation of biofilm (to the degree possible).
  3. And finally, surveyors want to see that you have appropriate policies and procedures in place, aligned with best practices, that are being followed by all staff involved in cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization. No blue dye required.