Monitoring your Sterilizer for Effectiveness
Oct 01th, 2012
Like any mechanical device with parts that wear, your sterilizer may get to a point where its performance has degraded. Unlike household appliances that provide ample feedback when they don’t work, an ineffective sterilizer may not send you a clear message that it needs repair or recalibration.
CDC guidelines recommend that a process indicator be used in every load, and that each unit is monitored biologically for effectiveness every week. These are two very different test processes.
[caption id="attachment_54" align="alignright" width="192"] Passport Mail-in Biological Monitor DPS012 $120.00[/caption]
Process indicators are chemically treated strips that change color if cycle parameters inside the chamber have been met. They don’t insure that the load has been sterilized but that that conditions for sterilization have been achieved. A biological indicator has live organisms that are placed inside the load and verify that the sterilizer actually kills pathogens. Test organisms are chosen for their resistance to a particular process and most strips have two organisms - one that resists steam and chemical vapor and another that resists dry heat. Each of these organisms incubates at a different temperature, so you can use the same strip for all sterilizers but just need to culture them at different temperatures.
[caption id="attachment_55" align="alignleft" width="143"] Dry Heat Process Indicator Strips (100) DIS100 $15.00[/caption]
Process indicators are specific to a process. Make sure you purchase the correct strips for each process; a dry heat sterilizer requires a dry heat process indicator and a steam autoclave requires a steam process indicator. They are not interchangeable.
The green dot on the dry heat process indicator strips Dentronix provides will turn brown when exposed in old-style dry heat units (320-340°F) and almost black when exposed in newer-style convective units (375°F). Our biological monitors contain both geobacillus stearothermophilus and bacillus atrophaeus so that all sterilization processes can be monitored. Simply check the box on the mail-in form to advise the laboratory which process was used.
Category: Dentronix Quarterly