Why does an autoclave spore test fail?

by dewi susanti

An autoclave spore test is a very unique test that is mainly used in determining the efficiency of autoclaves. This is a weekly test that in most cases because a norm until when results show your equipments may be faulty thus is malfunctioning. Autoclaving has been identified to be a very effective way of treating medical instruments against infections from dangerous micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses among other micro-organisms. However, there are times when autoclaves malfunction or even perform sub-optimally thereby resulting into partial or no sterilization at all. The spore test mainly assesses the autoclaves’ efficiency in destroying dangerous microorganisms.


How to take an autoclave spore test

Taking an autoclave spore test is quite easy as you only need to pay close attention to the directions provided for the given spore test product you want to use. The directions and steps to be taken are different depending on the spore test product of choice. You should sterilize the spore test (in respect to set conditions on temperature and pressure) for not longer than one hour. You should then wait for the autoclave to cool down and depressurize before removing the spore test. The spore test should then be placed in an incubator for 48 hours (or the time provided for by the manufacturer) and check for bacterial growth. If in case there is any growth noted, then the autoclave in use is faulty and has malfunctioned.

Possible causes of a failed spore test

While most people think that the main reason for failed spore tests is entirely caused by faulty autoclaves, research shows that operator error may also contribute to this failure. If your autoclave has recorded negative spore test results, you should take a review of your sterilization procedures. You should look out for the following possible human errors in the sterilization procedures:

1. Is your autoclave being overloaded? Check out the manufacturer’s specifications on the amount of autoclave that should be loaded in the autoclave at a time. Overloading the autoclave is likely to cause partial or no sterilization at all.

2. Are the right conditions maintained? For an autoclave to sterilize medical equipments completely, the required conditions need to be met. These are conditions such as temperature and pressure among other conditions depending on the manufacturer’s requirements.

3. Is the cycle allowed to stay in the autoclave for the right time? For an autoclave to be fully efficient in sterilizing a medical instrument, the required timeframe for the sterilization process needs to be maintained.

4. Are you using the proper packaging procedures? A failed spore test can also be an indication of improper packaging of instruments.

An autoclave spore test is a very important step not only in assessing the efficiency of an autoclave but also in determining whether the right procedures are followed during sterilization.