Earle H Spaulding

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Earle Spaulding of Temple University (Philadelphia, Pa) in a 1939 paper on disinfection of surgical instruments in a chemical solution[1] proposed "a strategy for sterilization or disinfection of inanimate objects and surfaces based on the degree of risk involved in their use."[2] for the medical community.

"Due to his extensive study of disinfection and sterilization of medical instruments, Spaulding further refined his classification of appropriate treatment of medical devices based upon how a device is used. Chemical disinfection was classified as low level, high level, and sterilization based upon whether a device contacted intact skin, mucous membranes, or was introduced into the sterile cavity of the body."[1]

Spaulding classification[edit]

  • The three categories are critical, semicritical, or noncritical.
  • The system also established three levels of germicidal activity for disinfection (high, intermediate, and low).
  • Used for the basis of FDA and EPA guidelines.

Spaulding Classifications[edit]

Body Contact Disinfection Requirements FDA Device Class
intact skin low level non-critical
mucous membranes high level semi-critical
sterile body cavity sterilization critical

"A RATIONAL APPROACH TO DISINFECTION AND STERILIZATION - More than 30 years ago, Earle H. Spaulding devised a rational approach to disinfection and sterilization of patient-care items and equipment.14 This classification scheme is so clear and logical that it has been retained, refined, and successfully used by infection control professionals and others when planning methods for disinfection or sterilization." [3]


  1. ^ a b http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/articles/2000/09/figure-1-classifications.aspx
  2. ^ http://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/glossary.htm
  3. ^ http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/pdf/Disinfection_Sterilization/Pages10_12Disinfection_Nov_2008.pdf

External links[edit]