WFHSS Congress in Mexico at the AMPE – El Día de los Muertos

WFHSS held in Mexico City from 31 October to 3 November 2018 Why do people travel to international congresses? Because they want to think beyond the limits of their own experiences and are eager to explore new horizons. That is also the case when it comes to medical device reprocessing, which is designed to render the devices to a clean state after use.

El Día de los Muertos

El Día de los Muertos

El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) served as the cultural background to this year’s WFHSS (World Federation for Hospital Sterilization Sciences) Congress which was organized by the Mexican Association AMPE (Asociación Mexicana de Profesionalistas de Empaque).Based on the Aztec calendar El Dia de los Muertos used to take place between late July and early August but was postponed to All Saints Day (Día de Todos Santos) by the Christian priests of the Conquista during the 16th and 17th century. In Mexico death is not seen as the end of life itself but is a mere transit station between various forms of existence. That perception can also be applied to the reprocessing process, whereby quality demands must perhaps be viewed in a separate light and by the latest at the time of event-related risk assessment this comparison becomes more than critical!

Following the very successful joint WFHSS/DGSV (German Society of Sterile Supply) Congress held in 2017 in Bonn, the present conference brought together just over 1800 delegates, mainly from South America, who assiduously attended all lectures and working group events.

After a colourful Mexican opening event on the evening of 31 October, in keeping with tradition the introductory talks of the first session were given by a Mexican speaker, M. Zepeda Arias, and C. Denis, the WFHSS president. While the Mexican talk focused on Good Practice, its French counterpart dealt with the seemingly inaccessible challenge of harmonization of reprocessing practices. D. Petit (Switzerland) demonstrated, citing by way of example hand hygiene, that there were nonetheless very important standard behavioural rules. Why could these not be used as a transposable model for reprocessing medical devices?

W. Truscott (USA) described the changes unfolding in the human body in the aftermath of surgery, leading to immunosuppression and, in turn, triggering pathological reactions. The speaker elaborated on the various types of irritation that could result from reprocessing-induced residues (e.g. biofilm, disinfectants). But the attentive delegate could surmise: It was not necessarily just an inappropriately reprocessed instrument harbouring residues of an organic or chemical nature that could cause postoperative complications (impaired wound healing, infections). Based on a literature study, A. Ferreira Veiga Tipple (Brazil) reported that apparently until 2010 the issue of hand disinfection was not addressed in reprocessing departments and went on to demonstrate that inadequate hand disinfection was an additional source for contamination of the medical devices being reprocessed.

Inadequate hand disinfection – a source for contamination in the reprocessing department!

G. Antonisen (Denmark) described the positive expectations vested in automation of reprocessing processes, where certain, but not all, steps were automated.