WHAT ARE CRITICAL ITEMS?
Critical items are the objects that can cause a high risk of infection if contamination takes place with any microorganism. It is the entry or the penetration into sterile tissue, cavity or bloodstream. It includes different equipment used in the sterile body cavities such as: surgical instruments, cardiac and urinary catheter and also ultrasound probes. It is necessary to sterilize the equipment with steam in order to kill all the microorganism on the Surface.
WHAT ARE SEMI-CRITICAL ITEMS?
Semi-critical is defined as items that are in contact with non-intact skin or mucous membrane but do not penetrate soft tissues as such, they have a low risk of transmission. In this category, most of the items are heat-tolerant, the items should be heat sterilized carefully between patient uses. Some semi-critical items used on the human body include respiratory therapy and anaesthesia equipment. Cleaning process must precede high- level disinfection.
In the dental industry, semi-critical items include dental mouth mirror, amalgam condensers and impression trays. Dental hand pieces are a special case. Even though they don’t penetrate soft tissue, it is difficult for germicides to reach the internal part of the hand piece. Because of this reason, hand pieces should be heat sterilized using a steam autoclave or chemical vapour sterilizer.
WHAT ARE NON-CRITICAL ITEMS?
Non-critical items require low level of disinfection. It includes items that are in contact only with intact skin. Examples of non-critical items include blood pressure cuffs, stethoscope, hospital beds and furniture.
For more information: http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/Disinfection_Sterilization/2_approach.html