Autoclaves are fast becoming renowned as the optimal means of sterilising medical and dental instruments, tools, and equipment.
They function by producing superheated, pressurised steam at temperatures that eradicate bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms to deliver 100% sterilised and dry instruments.
The process and procedures for use should, however, be strictly followed in order to achieve the best results and avoid risks and hazards.
Let’s take a look now at the standard operating procedure for using autoclaves to give you an understanding of why they are an essential item in any medical and dental clinic.
1. Operator Training
It is essential for every person operating a steam autoclave to undergo the necessary training in order to follow the procedures for operation correctly.
This will ensure that they avoid any hazards and risks associated involved when working with steam at high temperatures.
Incorrect operation may also result in damage to the equipment and result in the warranty being nullified.
2. Preparing Materials
Most materials are safe for autoclaving.
However, glass items should be inspected for cracks and chips as this could result in the item breaking under pressure or due to high temperatures.
Solvents, especially bleach should not be used in the autoclave.
All items placed in the autoclave should be free of toxins or chemicals that could emit fumes at high temperatures and render them hazardous.
Items should be placed in appropriate containers or in steam filtering paper bags or wraps and/or aluminium foil.
Wrapping items tightly should be avoided as this allows the steam to penetrate optimally.
3. Protective Measures
Wear eye protection, insulated gloves, closed shoes, and protective clothing such as a lab coat when operating the autoclave.
4. Loading the Autoclave
Place items that are compatible with the autoclave. Do NOT overload as this will impede steam penetration.
5. Closing the Autoclave
Close the autoclave door firmly and ensure that the latch is secure. Lock the door and double check that it is locked.
6. Selecting the Cycle
An autoclave will have a selection of automatic cycles and a manual cycle. Select a cycle according to the type of material that has been placed in the autoclave.
Consult the user manual to choose the appropriate cycle according to the relevant material.
The user manual should be located in an easily accessible place near the autoclave.
Remember not to place items that are incompatible or not made from the same materials in the autoclave at the same time.
7. Select the Temperature and Time
If you have selected a manual cycle, you may be required to enter the temperature manually.
You may also need to enter the operation time manually. It is not recommended to use a manual setting for optimal sterilisation results.
8. Start the Autoclave
Press the start button to activate the autoclave and start the sterilisation process.
Do NOT attempt to open the door at any time while the autoclave is in operation.
9. Enter a Log
Enter your name, contact details, date, time, and selected cycle in a log book kept near the autoclave.
10. Stopping the Autoclave
Should any problems occur during operation, cancel or abort the cycle immediately. Do NOT open the autoclave immediately and report the problem to a supervisor or to a qualified technician.
11. Unloading the Autoclave
Wear personal protective clothing when unloading the autoclave.
Allow the items in the autoclave to stand for 10 minutes before unlocking, unlatching and opening the door.
Remove items wearing insulated gloves and place on an insulated surface.
The items should have been placed on trays or in containers for easier handling during unloading.
Do not shake or move items unnecessarily, especially closed containers or bottles. Close the door after unloading.
12. Enter a Log
Enter a log that the autoclave has been cleared.
The autoclave should only be operated when in good working condition and should be repaired and maintained on a regular basis by a qualified technician.
If you are searching for the best medical equipment supplier in Australia, including autoclaves, look further than Medical Equipment Services Australia.
We were originally established in 1952 in order to provide electro-medical products to healthcare professionals across the country.
The company (Medical Equipment Service) was acquired by Medical Equipment Australia in 2009. Since then, we have also expanded into the dental industry.