Aseptic Technique

Pamela Iwamoto, MSN, RN, CIC Senior Clinical Case Manager

University of New Mexico College of Nursing
Albuquerque, NM

Mary T. Post, RN, MS, CNS, CIC Director, Infection Prevention

Oregon Patient Safety Commission
Portland, OR

October 3, 2014


Following observations of Ignaz Semmelweis and others over 100 years ago, the practice of aseptic technique is an infection prevention method that is recognized as an important factor in the prevention and transmission of healthcare-associated infections.1Aseptic technique improves patient safety and prevents healthcare-associated infections that may negatively impact outcomes including: increasing patient morbidity and mortality, increasing healthcare costs for patients and their families, prolonging length of stay, increasing resistance of microorganisms to antimicrobials, and increasing physical and mental discomfort for the patient.2Aseptic techniques, defined as the process for keeping away disease-producing microorganisms, may be used in any clinical setting. Situations in which surgical asepsis technique is applied include surgery as well as other areas where invasive procedures are done such as placement of intravenous lines, urinary catheters, chest tubes, and any other indwelling devices. Clean technique, or medical asepsis, is another practice to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission of organisms from one person to another or from one place to another. Clean technique leads to a decrease of the overall number of microorganisms present rather than the absence of microorganisms as is found in surgical asepsis.3Insertion and maintenance of invasive devices are guided by published evidenced-based recommendations supporting education, training, and standardized care for patients with central lines, surgical sites, ventilators, and urinary catheters. Surgical and medical aseptic techniques encompass similar strategies such as hand hygiene but with distinct differences.