The importance of the proper sterilization of dental instruments, supplies, and equipment used in patient care is a critical aspect of health-care delivery that directly impacts patient safety. Health-care-associated infections impose a significant economic impact on the US health-care system as a leading cause of mortality and morbidity, with annual medical costs from $35.7 billion to $45 billion. Christine Queally Foisey discusses the standards for sterilization, classifications for dental instruments, monitoring sterilization procedures, spore testing, common factors that can influence the effectiveness of infection control procedures, and what to do if a spore test result is positive.  

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