Difference between Sterile and Aseptic technique?


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1,341 Posts

Nurses use the word "sterile" very liberally......

Going into a patient room to say place a PICC......

Donning a sterile gown, mask, gloves, draping the patient etc certainly helps reduce the number of available organisms for infection, however what about the air? That room is full of organisms floating through the air...


Has 6 years experience. 1,691 Posts

Thank you for clearing this up. I needed a simple definition of both.

Sterile - gets rid of all microbs

Aseptic-only gets rid of the disease that makes the microbs


1 Post

Two different terms same mission

This was a problem for me through much of my perioperative nursing residency. I finally ran this to ground and learned that aseptic surgical technique relates to maintaining an environment that is free from pathogenic organisms. It covers environmental cleaning, traffic patterns and sterile technique. Sterile technique is a set of procedures and operations intended to create and maintain a sterile environment in support of surgical asepsis.

When you insert an IV, you do skin antisepsis to create a sterile environment (however small that may be). That is why it is an aseptic practice. Inserting a foley illustrates this concept a little better. You wash your hands, create a sterile field, drape the patient, don sterile gloves and prep the patient. Then you insert the foley. Both surgical asepsis (providing for environmental contaminants) and sterile technique (creating and maintaining a sterile field) are employed.