Today, the routine undertaking of disinfection, sterilisation and decontamination of reusable medical devices by trained professionals in dedicated controlled environments is an essential measure that manages the risks associated with health care acquired infections (HCAI) and ensures the safety of patients and staff. Yet prior to the late 1950s, healthcare facilities in the UK did not have central sterile services departments (CSSDs). While CSSDs had been successfully pioneered by the British Army at home and abroad, it wasn’t until the publication of the Nuffield Report in 1958 that the concept of CSSDs was put forward as a necessary requirement on a national scale.
During these early years of CSSD implementation, individuals interested in infection control began to come together to discuss the rapid developments that were occurring in the sector. In 1967, department superintendents formed the Association of Sterile Supplies Managers (ASSM), the predecessor to the Institute of Sterile Services Management (ISSM), which came into being in 1984.
By 2004, the ISSM had evolved far beyond its original remit: its membership consisted of all kinds of decontamination professionals as well as allied professions, and its professional development training programmes were renowned for achieving and maintaining standards of excellence in the sterile services. Also instrumental in fostering and leading active debate, research and development within the field of decontamination sciences, the Institute underwent an official name change to better reflect the breadth of its work: the Institute of Decontamination Sciences (IDSc).
In 2017 the IDSc celebrated its 50th anniversary. From its initial inception as the ASSM in 1967, the IDSc has actively developed and grown in strength to become recognised as a key professional body in the UK framework that manages risks associated with HCAI in medical devices reprocessing, therefore playing a fundamental role in achieving in effective patient outcomes.
As the UK’s biggest professional body for medical device reprocessing, the IDSc continues to embrace the challenges that arise within the decontamination sector. It has actively engaged with and helped to lead the major review of traditional standards and practice in all areas of decontamination that occurred in response to the emergence of CJD and the complexities of prion deactivation and encourages future growth, improvement and advances within this rapidly evolving field.