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How Ethylene Oxide Works in Sterilization of Critical Medical Supplies


How does ethylene oxide (EO) work? Worldwide, EO is the primary way to sterilize medical supplies. Current safety practices for the use of EO have been rigorously examined and proven safe in at least 13 scientific studies over the past 40 years. This industry-standard, FDA-recognized process currently is the only way to sterilize approximately 50 percent of critical medical products—specifically, complex devices that have connectors or materials that are not compatible with any other method of sterilization.

Medline is an Illinois-based company that produces, packages and distribute a variety of critical medical supplies, including sterile surgical packs that contain all of the disposable items necessary for a wide range of procedures – from tonsillectomies, C-sections and knee replacements to liver transplants and open-heart surgeries.

These packs are customized to meet the needs of specific health care systems and physicians…and can contain as many as 200 separate items…from draping, gowns and gauze to plastic tubing, sponges and medical devices, such as chemotherapy ports. Sterilization of these materials is necessary for infection prevention and overall public health. Conducting non-sterile surgeries is not an option for obvious patient risk and hospital liability.

Here’s how the ethylene oxide sterilization process actually works.

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