Medical and Surgical Asepsis

Proper knowledge of medical and surgical asepsis technique helps a nursing assistant to prevent the transmission of infection.

Medical Asepsis

medical asepsis hand washing

Medical asepsis is about eliminating the spread of microorganisms. It is a state of being free from disease-causing pathogens.

Hand hygiene and using alcohol-based hand rubs, are some of the ways in which medical asepsis can be maintained. Let’s look at each of these procedures.

Hand hygiene – Using soap and water

Soap and water is used when hands are visibly soiled or dirt/organic material is present on hands.

  • Step 1: Bare the hands, forearms by pushing the gown sleeves above the wrists. Remove all items such as rings or wrist watch from the hands. Clothes and jewelry facilitate bacterial growth.
  • Step 2: Turn on the water and wet your hands and wrists.
  • Step 3: Apply 3 to 5 ml liquid soap from a soap dispenser to your wet hands. Rub the soap all over your hands.
  • Step 4: Rub your hands for 15 seconds. Ensure to lather each finger, by rubbing around them. Also, rub the back of your palms and under the fingernails. This helps to remove microorganisms from the hand.
  • Step 5: Rinse and dry your hands thoroughly. Blot with a paper towel to reduce skin irritation. The rubbing motion should be from the fingers to the forearm.
  • Step 6: Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet to prevent contamination. Do not touch the paper towel with the opposite hand.

Using Alcohol-based hand rubs

Alcohol-based hand rubs are used when the hands are not soiled, but you suspect the presence of microorganisms.

  • Step 1: Bare the hands, forearms by pushing the gown sleeves above the wrists. Remove all items such as rings or wrist watch from the hands. Clothes and jewelry facilitate bacterial growth.
  • Step 2: Apply a good quantity of antiseptic hand rub on your hands and wrists.
  • Step 3: Rub your hands for 15 to 30 seconds till the solution is dry. Ensure to rub each finger, the back of your palms and under the nails. This effectively disinfects the hand.


Surgical Asepsis

Surgical asepsis is a technique that ensures that sterile items remain sterile.

For instance, once hand hygiene is completed, the nursing assistant dons sterile equipment such as gloves, gown, face mask, hair cover, shoe covers and face shields. It is important to use proper procedures to handle this equipment so that the sterility of this equipment is maintained to prevent contamination.

Follow these steps for maintaining sterility of the gown and gloves:

  • Step 1: Lift the gown at the neckline. Ensure that it does not come in contact with non-sterile areas.
  • Step 2: Hold the gown up, so that it falls open. Slide both arms into the gown sleeves. Do not extend the hands beyond the cuffs.
  • Step 3: Ask another assistant to stand behind you. Ask him to pull the gown shoulders up and tie the necktie.
  • Step 4: With fingers inside the gown sleeves, don the gloves on one hand first. Then with the gloved hand, don the gloves on the other hand. The gloves should be pulled over the gown cuffs. This maintains the sterility of the gown and the gloves.
  • Step 5: Hand the waist tie on the gown to the assistant and ask him to hold it with a sterile forceps. Make a turn and take the waist tie from the assistant. Secure the waist tie. Securing the gown ensures that the inside clothing is not exposed to a non-sterile area.