Sterile item expiration date

Specialties Operating Room


Hi everyone, while waiting for the manufacture to respond, would like to know your opinion on our debate at work today.  Does the expiration date (indicated by the manufacturer)on a disposable, single use sterile item mean that the the item is no longer sterile or sterility is compromised? Would  the sterile field be considered contaminated if the expired item was opened on the sterile table/field? thanks in advance ( expiration date was only 2 years after the manufacturer's date).

Editorial Team / Admin

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,637 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

Expiration dates tend to refer to the stability of the item, not the sterility of it. Items can become brittle/start to break down even when stored properly if stored for longer than the manufacturer's expiration date.

However, when in doubt, consider the field contaminated.

Would be interested in more info- what was the item and how expired was it?


1,548 Posts

If the packaging says "Sterile unless damaged or open", and it wasn't damaged or open before you opened it, you're good.

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