Autoclave Monitoring: How to Ensure You’re Doing it Right
For a moment, consider your typical day and all the products and services you rely on that require some form of compliance and routine maintenance. You drive to the office in a car that was inspected for safety and emissions. You buy a cup of coffee from a shop that’s inspected by the local board of health. You raise the air conditioning or heat on an energy-efficient unit that won’t combust because it was inspected at the start of the season. In each instance, you rely on the fact that equipment is properly maintained for health and safety.
It’s important to remember that as patients go about their daily routines, they rely on dental health care professionals to do the same—to exercise due diligence in infection control and prevention and perform basic yet critical tasks.
An autoclave, the heart of your sterilization center, isn’t a “set-it-and-forget it” piece of equipment; it must be monitored.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Sterilization procedures should be monitored using biological, mechanical, and chemical indicators.” To streamline all three areas, SciCan, a leader in infection control, introduced its ENSURE autoclave monitoring system. The product line is comprised of three parts: an incubator, chemical indicators/integrators, and sterilization pouches. ENSURE’s tagline and overall concept is simple: “Think of it as a routine checkup for your sterilizer.”
Let’s take a closer look at how ENSURE offers speed, reliability, and efficiency, in accordance with CDC guidelines:
ENSURE Incubator is a 10-well incubator that allows for monitoring up to 5 sterilizers at one time, providing the user with easy-to-read results that show whether sterility has been achieved or not. It has an integrated vial crusher and built-in timer for up to 5 different programs and is designed to meet the most stringent regulatory requirements.
From the CDC: “Mechanical monitoring involves checking the sterilizer gauges, computer displays, or printouts, and documenting in your sterilization records that pressure, temperature, and exposure time have reached the levels recommended by the sterilizer manufacturer. Since these parameters can be observed during the sterilization cycle, this might be the first indication of a problem.”
ENSURE Type 5 and Type 5 integrators are fast and economical solutions for load monitoring. They’re designed to be easy to read to clearly identify if an instrument load has met the expected parameters for sterilization. The Type 5 integrators are the most accurate of all chemical indicators and contain a chemical ink that reacts to all 3 sterilization parameters (time, temperature, and steam).
From the CDC: “Chemical indicator results are obtained immediately following the sterilization cycle and therefore can provide more timely information about the sterilization cycle than a spore test.”
ENSURE Biological Indicators (BIs) are reliable and self-contained indicators for results in as little as 24 hours. According to SciCan, they’re the only cost-effective method to ensure effective performance of your sterilizer. SciCan offers its ENSURE BIs in a 25-unit starter kit, along with the incubator, and an easy-to-fill-in log.
From the CDC: “Biological indicators, or spore tests, are the most accepted means of monitoring sterilization because they assess the sterilization process directly by killing known highly resistant microorganisms… A spore test should be used on each sterilizer at least weekly.”
ENSURE Sterilization Pouches offer built-in multi-parameter internal/external process indicators that change color when the criteria for sterilization have been met. The secure seal and perforated fold allow for accurate folding of the adhesive strip to form an airtight seal, maintaining the integrity of the pouch during storage after sterilization. Notably, once sterilized, the contents will remain sterile for up to 3 years, provided the integrity of the pouch has not been compromised.
From the CDC: “A chemical indicator should be used inside every package to verify that the sterilizing agent has penetrated the package and reached the instruments inside. If the internal chemical indicator is not visible from the outside of the package, an external indicator should also be used.”
The SciCan ENSURE sterilization pouches come with type 4 sterilization indicators built into the inside and the outside of the pouch so offices using them are CDC-compliant.
How do you ensure that you’re doing enough to monitor your autoclave?
For more information, including how to maintain sterilization records, read the CDC guidelines for sterilization monitoring.
To learn more about ENSURE products, visit SciCan’s website.