In the UK, Sterile Services Departments (SSD’s) were pioneered and developed in the late 1950’s following the successful supply of pre-sterile sets of surgical instruments and dressings by the Royal Army Medical Corps to support the Suez crisis.
As part of the early development of the service, Superintendents managing the departments formed the Association of Sterile Supplies Managers (ASSM). This was the predecessor to the Institute of Sterile Services Management (ISSM), which evolved in 1984.
In November 2004, the ISSM changed its official name to The Institute of Decontamination Sciences (IDSc). This name change reflects, acknowledges and encompasses all decontamination professionals, allied professions, clinical services and the challenges of safe healthcare provision. From the inception of the ASSM, the IDSc has continued to develop and grow in strength, and is now recognised as a key professional body in the UK framework, managing all of the risks associated with Health Care Acquired Infections (HCAI) in medical devices reprocessing.
The control and reduction of HCAI is fundamental to effective patient outcomes. Patients have the right, enshrined in UK law, to expect professional competence in the decontamination process, and that the medical devices used in any intervention are fit for purpose and decontaminated to the highest standards.
The IDSc embraces the challenges faced in helping to reduce the risks of infection and is committed in ensuring the provision of competent staff that can meet the technical and operational challenges of medical device decontamination.
The risks associated with medical device reprocessing has a very high public profile following the emergence of Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease. The requirement for prion deactivation during the decontamination process has led to a major review of traditional standards and practice in all areas of decontamination from acute SSD’s to GP Practices, Endoscopy and Dental Services. The IDSc remains the biggest UK professional body for medical device reprocessing and at the forefront of this rapidly evolving field.