by Anne Burke, R.N., B.S.
(Permission to use this article granted to M. Koopman, Infection Control Nurse, from the author, Anne Burke)

A liquid chemical sterilizer using peracetic acid as the biocide has been in use since 1988. Offered as an alternative to ETO for sterilizing heat-sensitive devices, it also gained acceptance as a replacement for glutaraldehyde soaks in the OR.

The desire for a more rapid reprocessing time for heat-sensitive devices led to the expanded use of high-level disinfection since the time involved was much less than with the use of ETO. While high-level disinfection may kill most microorganisms, bacterial spores will not be eliminated without extended exposure times. Sterilization provides a higher standard of care and margin of safety not found with high-level disinfection methods.

Next: Characteristics of Peracetic Acid