Every medical facility should have a machine to properly clean the equipment that they use in examinations, surgeries, and other medical procedures.
But not many medical offices understand the importance of an autoclave. So, what are the advantages of autoclave sterilization machines and how do they work? Let’s explore this specific type of medical equipment and learn how it can benefit your office.
What Is an Autoclave?
An autoclave is machinery that is used to sanitize equipment used in many areas of expertise, including scientific and medical purposes.
Furthermore, an autoclave can clean many tools such as solids, differently-shaped instruments, liquids, and more.
A medical office must have a process in which they sanitize each piece of equipment used in exams to ensure they maintain safety for both its employees and patients. If a patient is treated with a tool that has not been properly cleaned, they are at risk of getting injured or falling ill.
Many facilities like dental offices typically carry smaller, more mobile versions of the autoclave which resemble a microwave oven. These autoclaves are utilized so a dentist can quickly sanitize equipment while treating a patient and ensure the tools are ready for the next patient. Hospitals will most commonly utilize larger autoclave machines to clean many pieces of equipment simultaneously.
Generally, all facilities that contain equipment that is used on many people must have an autoclave and sterilization process.
How Do Autoclaves Work?
Typically, autoclaves are described as operating like a pressure cooker. A steam generator is usually built into the machine to ensure proper enclosure of the tool. When it’s time to sanitize the equipment, there is a main technique that most professionals utilize.
Before starting the process, the professional must analyze the water level to ensure there is enough to produce enough steam needed for sanitization. An integrator strip may then be marked with the date and placed in the center of the machine.
Once the instruments are ready for cleaning, it’s important to put them in paper side down and plastic side up. This will ensure the heat reaches the equipment can exit through the paper side rather than collect in the plastic. Be sure to evenly space your tools to ensure they’re cleaned properly.
There are usually multiple trays you can place your instruments on if the machine is large enough. The process in which you choose will depend on the equipment that you’re sterilizing.
When the tools are ready, allow them to complete their dry cycle to ensure you aren’t harmed when you go to pick them up. In most cases, the casing will turn a different color, indicating full sanitization of the equipment.
Types of Autoclaves
The two common types of autoclaves will depend on the facility, equipment, and requirements of the hospital or laboratory. Read on to discover the difference between the gravity-displacement autoclave and the vacuum autoclave. When determining which autoclave supplies to purchase for your office, be sure to analyze your office’s needs to choose the right machinery.
The gravity-displacement autoclave is the most common type of sterilization machine used during the cleaning process. Additionally, experts will use this machine to clean steel and glass instruments, as well as biohazardous materials. Furthermore, this type of autoclave is simple and doesn’t need an external machine to inject steam into the chamber.
The vacuum autoclave was created for items that cannot separate oxygen within the vicinity including porous equipment like packaged tools. This machine is then able to replace the oxygen material with hot steam, sterilizing the instruments properly.
Safer Method of Sanitization
When facilities utilize harsh chemicals to disinfect equipment, they run the risk of contamination with tools that directly interact with the patients. Many chemicals needed during a proper sanitization process can be harmful to the environment as well as the handler.
In most cases, autoclave machines provide an alternative way to sterilize laboratory and medical equipment.
Steam is created by boiling water, which is quite possibly the safest method of sanitization that can be used in any facility.
Effective at Killing Bacteria
An autoclave machine kills bacteria with pressurized steam that, when applied to the tool, removes the structural proteins that make up the microorganisms and renders them nonfunctional.
Bacteria cells begin to die when they reach a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). During the sterilization process in an autoclave, temperatures begin to reach these high temperatures within a short time.
Steam is known to eradicate harmful microorganisms, making the autoclave machine a highly effective method of destroying bacteria on equipment. This allows the professionals to continue reusing certain tools in their field, which also makes it a cost-effective method, as we’ll discuss next.
Additionally, many microorganisms have developed into an immune state against many antibacterial cleaning products, making steam the best and most thorough option overall.
Steam is easily accessible, quickly produced, and cheap. In fact, many homeowners take to steam in order to clean several parts of their homes, as opposed to using harmful chemicals.
The same can be said for medical facilities, as all they need is a source of water and proper heat to accurately reach the right temperature of steam. This is why most offices benefit from utilizing an autoclave, as it can automatically produce the correct amount of steam when fed with water.
Additionally, sanitizing equipment throughout the day during each day of operation can get quite expensive if professionals used cleaning supplies. Since they already use chemicals to clean hard surfaces around the space, they’d go through thousands of dollars a year on cleaning products alone, as they’d double the cleaning products’ use.
Most autoclaves will successfully sanitize equipment within a matter of 30-90 minutes depending on how many tools they are cleaning, the pressure, and the temperature set. Sanitization may take a longer time if one person is manually cleaning each tool, as they need to check and thoroughly clean each crevice of the device.
It’s important that all hospitals and medical facilities automate what they can to ensure they’re able to tend to all patients and emergency situations.
By understanding the advantages of autoclave sterilization machines, you can purchase the proper autoclave for your medical office. Be sure to talk with your team to determine which one is best for you.