Original Publication
Open Access

Aseptic Technique

Published: October 29, 2015 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10237

Included in this publication:

  • Aseptic Technique Instructor's Guide.doc
  • Aseptic Technique Rater Training Instructions.docx
  • Aseptic Technique Rater Training.pptx
  • Aseptic Technique Rater Optional RN Case Scenario.docx
  • Aseptic Technique SP Case Scenario.docx
  • Aseptic Technique SP Training.pptx
  • Aseptic Technique Post Encounter Resources.docx
  • Aseptic Technique Supply List.docx
  • Aseptic Technqiue Checklist Scoring Guide.docx

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: To adequately address local infections, wounds must be properly incised and drained, a common procedure that learners perform when the site for location is uncomplicated. Learners must perform this procedure using aseptic technique. Aseptic technique refers to practices that are followed to prevent contamination by microorganisms. The use and proper donning of sterile gloves are key components to properly performing aseptic technique. In this exercise, we present a mock incision and drainage using a standardized patient (SP) to assess aseptic technique as well as communication with SPs and other health professions. Methods: This 20-minute case includes exposure to some of the Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals and to an SP with a mock abscess. The SP presents with an abscess on the arm that needs to be assessed and opened. Depending on the facilitator’s decision, either the SP or an observer, a mock registered nurse, completes an aseptic technique checklist. The learner prepares the area and performs the procedure up to the actual incision. At that point, the learner is instructed to dress the wound as if drained and complete the task as outlined. Upon completion, each learner receives a copy of the checklist and supplemental materials on aseptic technique, hand washing, and skin preparation to reinforce concepts assigned. Results: A comparison of novices and experts produced the following findings. For reliability, the internal consistency of the checklist for each of the two raters was .87 and .71 (Cronbach’s alpha); interrater reliability using the intraclass correlation coefficient was .74 (p < .001) for the global scale. For validity, operating room nurses outperformed students on the global scale (t = 7.47, p < .0001, and t = 10.66, p < .0001, for the two raters, respectively) and on several checklist items. The effect-size values for raters were large (Cohen’s d = 3.0 and 4.4), providing validity evidence for the ability of this assessment to detect difference in performance of this task. Discussion: Programs may want to consider using a validated instrument to check competence given that appropriate use of aseptic technique frequently occurs in the context of unsupervised activities. More work is needed to enhance resident skills in the area of aseptic technique because of limited improvement despite additional clinical experience.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this session, learners will be able to:

  1. Perform the procedure without a break in aseptic technique.
  2. Review some key points of the Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals.
  3. Ensure that the patient and caregiver are free of infection caused by contamination or body substance exposure.

Author Information

  • Monica Lypson, MD, MHPE: University of Michigan Medical School
  • Stacie Buckler, BSN: University of Michigan Medical School
  • Kelly Poszywak, MS: University of Michigan Medical School

None to report.

None to report.

Prior Presentations
Lypson ML, Hamstra SJ, Colletti L. Aseptic technique and informed consent: do surgical residents improve their skills during residency? Presented at: AAMC Central Group on Educational Affairs Regional Conference; March 9-11, 2006; Kansas City, MO.

Lypson ML, Hamstra SJ, Colletti L. Examining the validity of a resident assessment tool for aseptic technique using nurses and medical students. Presented at: Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education Annual Educational Conference; March 2-4, 2007; Orlando, FL.

Lypson ML, Hamstra SJ, Colletti L. Validation of an assessment tool for aseptic technique in resident physicians. Presented at: Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association; April 9-13, 2007; Chicago, IL.

Lypson ML, Tang TS, Disbro SK, Colletti L. Assessing aseptic technique is an ideal way to ensure inter-professional collaboration and quality patient care. Poster presented at: American Board of Medical Specialties/Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education Joint Conference on Systems-Based Practice; September 2004.


Lypson M, Buckler S, Poszywak K. Aseptic technique. MedEdPORTAL. 2015;11:10237. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10237