Have you ever found yourself reaching for a packet of lubricating jelly only to take pause and question whether you should be using sterile jelly versus the same multi-use tube that you have been? This is a common internal debate across the medical industry and one that is worth exploring. In today’s post, we will examine the times that you need to maintain sterility and the times that using regular lubricating jelly is perfectly acceptable.
At HR Pharmaceuticals, all of our SurgiLube products are sterile until opened and we have various sizes of single-use foilpac® and metal tubes for use when a sterile, water-soluble, non-staining lubricating jelly is indicated. Of course, once the sterility is compromised, it is still good for use in clean environments.
Sterile Vs. Clean
Before we jump right in to which you should use when; let’s take a brief minute to review the differences. Sterile means that a product, surface, or environment is free from viable life that is able to reproduce. This includes microbes such as bacteria. Clean, septic, or non-sterile means that practice is aimed at reducing transmission of microbes when there is no apparent risk for infection.
Sterile technique is what is used during invasive procedures, surgery, or when there is a risk of infection. Great care is taken to prevent the spread of a single microbe including special scrubbing technique, sterile personal protective equipment (PPE), and covering surfaces, patient, and staff.
Clean technique is what is used for general healthcare practices. It includes hand hygiene, clean gloves, and regular cleaning of surfaces and supplies to prevent bacterial growth or spread.
Sterile Vs. Regular Medical Lubricant
When it comes to the use of medical lubricants, the decision to use sterile or regular will vary with the procedure being performed. A general rule of thumb is as long as no barriers are being broken, and an area that is home to natural bacteria of flora — the gut, rectum, or vagina — clean lubricant can be used. If the skin is being broken or a sterile procedure is being performed, use a sterile lubricant. And, if you are not sure, it is always better to err on the side of precaution and just use a sterile lubricant.
While we hope this handy chart and discussion has helped you better understand when to use our sterile options versus when it is okay to a multi-use tube of clean lubricant, it is always best practice to follow your facility’s policy. And, remember that clean lubricant should be product that had been kept in a cool, dry place, with the cap closed. When handling the product, use clean technique — practice hand hygiene, wear gloves, and never touch the product opening to the patient.
At HR Pharmaceuticals, all of our products are made using kosher practice and bacteriostatic properties to help decrease microbial growth and improve patient comfort during invasive procedures. Our Surgilube® Surgical Lubricant has been the name of consistency and reliability in the medical community for more than 80 years. Because it is water-soluble, it can be used on a variety of medical instruments without causing damage to the instrument or the patient it is being used on. To stock your shelves with a quality medical lubricant that you and your patients can rely on, visit us online.