In recent Expert Series postings, we discussed important clues in chemical labels for the chemical IFU (How to Use instructions) and safe use. The SPD detective will find more clues in the chemical label for product management.
The first clue is the Product Name. We may depend on color and container shape to verify the correct chemical, referring to our manual sink detergent as the “Green chemical”. Best practice is to stock and use chemicals by specific name, reducing dependence on color. The same color can be used for multiple products and there is a trend to avoid dyes in chemicals.
Product expiration and lot number are also important clues. Expirations are printed on labels or stickers or directly stamped onto the container. Use stock rotation and double check expirations when restocking all chemicals used in Sterile Processing.
Another issue around product expiration may arise during survey visits. The surveyor may ask “How long is this product good for after opening the bottle?” The reason for this question is actually related to the correct use of high-level disinfectants such as OPA or glutaraldehydes. Opening a detergent or surface disinfectant container is unlikely to affect expiration. Detergents and surface disinfectants are usually “good” up to the expiration date marked on the container. If in doubt, check with the specific manufacturer of the product.
Following the clues on chemical labels by Material Supply Management and Sterile Processing teams will ensure fresh effective chemicals for cleaning and other applications.