Operator errors that are likely to affect autoclave spore testing

 

by dewi susanti

Autoclave spore testing is a weekly routine exercise that aims at ensuring that an autoclave is in its best working condition at all times. Mainly, this test is used in assessing the efficiency of a sterilizer as well as its suitability in sterilizing medical equipments. It is important to note that sterilization is very important especially in hospital and medical institution settings. This is due to the reason that it is used as a remedy for preventing the spread of infections and dangerous micro-organisms in hospitals. Therefore, the spore test is performed to ensure that a sterilizer is performing as it is supposed to and that it is achieving its intended purpose. However there are times when the test may fail with such an occurrence likely to be caused by operator errors such as:

Overloading the chamber

When loading equipments to be sterilized into the chamber, there is a specific limit of the load that should be added into the chamber depending on the size of the chamber. Other than overloading the chamber, the failure to distribute the load evenly in the chamber can cause a spore test to fail. Poor loading of equipments in the chamber prevents the pressurized steam used for sterilization from reaching all the surfaces of the equipment being sterilized. As such, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s provisions on how to load equipments into the sterilization chamber.

Interruption of the sterilization cycle

The sterilization cycle should never be interrupted at any one time even if the sterilization time is almost over. This is because interruptions to the cycle cause a drop in temperatures thereby affecting the whole process. When interruptions occur, the process should be restarted allover until there are no interruptions whatsoever.

Wrong timing

For autoclave spore testing to be accurate, there is need to ensure that the sterilization process runs for the required time. Too little time for running the sterilization process has been noted to be the most common source of errors in spore testing. Due to this, it is important to ensure that the sterilization process runs for the required time without any interruptions. This makes it easy to get accurate and precise results about the efficiency of the sterilizer.

Wrong temperature and pressure

For any sterilization to be successful, the set conditions of sterilization need to be maintained accurately. If for instance the required temperature should be set at 250 Degrees Celsius, it should be exactly that. Any variations from the required temperature will definitely affect the results of spore testing. In addition to this, pressure should be maintained at the required level for purposes of yielding accurate results.

Autoclave spore testing is crucial in the assessment of the efficiency and reliability of a sterilizer. As such, there is need to exercise great care and attentiveness when carrying out this test. This is for purposes of getting accurate results that can then be depended upon to make any necessary changes. Following the guidelines and provisions of manufacturers of sterilizers is essential in achieving the best factual results.