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U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
For Immediate Release -- April 3, 2015
New 'Rugged' Medical Instrument Sterilizer to Replace Model Used for Over 40 Years
(Fort Detrick, Md.) -- The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command has tested and selected a new steam sterilizer developed to sanitize medical instruments and supplies used in military combat support hospitals.
USAMRMC selected the P2131 from Fort Defiance Industries located in Loudon, Tennessee, because it is rugged, reliable, and transportable, yet also meets the same safety and effectiveness requirements for sterilizers used in regular hospitals, according to leadership.
"The successful testing, selection, and procurement of this device highlights USAMRMC's continued commitment to partnerships with businesses who can deliver innovative medical military-relevant solutions to support the Warfighter," said Dr. Kenneth Bertram, Principal Assistant for Acquisition.
The P2131 will replace a previous steam sterilizer used in combat support hospitals since the late 1960s, according to Patricia Dubill, a biomedical engineer at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency Medical Devices Program Management Office.
"Although the previous model performed very well, the Army's Directorate of Combat and Doctrine Development determined that upgrades were needed to improve logistical supportability and meet state-of-the-art standards and regulations for safety and effectiveness," explained Dubill. "Desired improvements included automated controls, pre-vacuum cycles, reduced power and water consumption and compliance with modern industry standards for steam sterilizers."
Dubill explained that combat support hospitals may have limited availability of power, water and personnel, and sometimes the medical equipment used in these locations has to operate under extreme temperatures, humidity, and altitude. The improvements made to the steam sterilizer will reduce labor required for operation and maintenance and improve overall safety and effectiveness of the system. In addition, the P2131 features a water recovery system that reduces water consumption by more than 90 percent and a water softener system that substantially reduces mineral buildup on heating elements, thereby greatly extending component life and reducing maintenance and downtime, according to Dubill.
Steam sterilizers are critical to the Army Medicine mission, according to leadership. Medical teams must sterilize medical instruments and supplies used during surgery and other medical procedures prior to use in order to prevent infection of patients. Widely accepted as the "gold standard" of sterilizers, the steam sterilizer consists of a pressure chamber that treats medical items with high-pressure saturated steam. This process kills any infectious materials that may be present. The sterilized items are then safe to use in patient care.