Autoclave – Medical Assistant Skills Leave a comment

A very common way that we’ll prepare instruments for the autoclave is to put them in a pouch. These sterilization pouches already ready to go with an indicator on the package itself so we do not need to put an indicator inside them. What will happen, is these arrows on the outside of the sterilization pouch will change color when they’ve been sterilized properly. ‘Cause when we’re putting in instruments, one of the key things is, is that when we actually open them, they’re opened in this direction. So, when we place an instrument inside, we wanna put it handle down first. This instrument stays open by itself so we don’t need to worry about having any cotton in there. If we were placing an instrument in here with hinges, we would place cotton within the hinges.


The next thing we’re going to do is just pull off that cover on the tape and then fold it over. One of the things with these pouches is that they must be folded exactly on this line. That means that it’s been properly sealed. Now, where we’re going to load our autoclave? Now, that we have all of our tools ready, we’ll probably have a variety of tools: Things that are wrapped, things in pouches, and items that don’t need to be wrapped or put into a pouch. Some objects are used for non-sterile procedures but need to be very well cleaned, so they will be sanitized and dried, and then they’ll be put in the autoclave to be fully cleaned and then we will store them in a clean drawer until they’re used.


A lot of autoclaves are very different. Whenever you get working in an office, you’ll wanna get out the autoclave manual and get familiar with the autoclave that you have. The process of autoclaving is based on steam being pressurized and superheated above boiling temperature. We wanna make sure that there’s plenty of water inside the autoclave. We can’t just use any water though, we need to make sure that we use distilled water ’cause tap water could have other minerals or other material in it, so it may not work well and it may harm the autoclave.


Each time we go to use an autoclave, we wanna check the water level and make sure that there’s plenty of water in there. Once we know that there’s enough water, we’re gonna load our autoclave. Just like the idea when we were wrapping our instruments, we wanna make sure that all surfaces are going to be heated by the steam inside the autoclave so that all surfaces have to be touched by that steam. So they all have to be evenly distributed in the autoclave. Some autoclaves will merely have a chamber that you must fill. So, in that regard, you would want to try to stack your items in there, have enough items, that then everything would be arranged in a fashion that the steam could flow up through and around all of your packages. Other autoclaves offer trays to be able to make sure that there’s even air flow between all of your packages.


So, we will wanna make sure that we organize our items in our tray so that we can feel like, “Okay, this is going to allow for enough air to move around.” I might be able to get a few more instruments in here. This is actually a pretty small autoclave so we don’t wanna push it too much. We’re also going to include our indicator ’cause we are including items that are not wrapped. We wanna make sure that as we’re putting it in, we’re including the indicator for that instrument. So now, we’ll wanna secure the door. Each system is going to be different. In this case, we have a crank to make sure that the door is secured and tight. Other autoclaves have a gasket system and a latch. In this type of system, we wanna make sure that this is really nice and tight ’cause we don’t want this to open up and we need it to reach a certain amount of pressure. So, that chamber has to be sealed.


Before we turn it on, we’re gonna get everything set. One of the issues is time. For general packs and wrapped items that need to be sterile for surgical procedures, we wanna make sure that they’ve at least been sterilized for 30 minutes, so we could turn our dial to 30 minutes. We also wanna make sure that they at least get to 250 degrees Fahrenheit or 121 degrees Celsius. The manufacturer will give recommendations for different types of wrapped items. Then we’ll turn the dial to sterilize, and then turn on the autoclave. When the autoclave is done and after it’s depressurized fully, then we can open up the autoclave and each autoclave will have its own system for how it allows you to know that the autoclave is ready and done to be opened.


All the items should be dry when we pull them out. We will undo the door and when we remove them, some offices have different procedures for putting the items away. Our office has us wear gloves when we handle things that have been sterilized and put away. This is especially important if you have any breaks or sores on your skin, or any dry skin. A lot of procedures have to be done with gloves on to make sure that we’re protecting our patients. When we remove it, it should be cool to the touch. Sometimes after it’s done this could be quite hot, it needs time to cool. But if it’s ready to go, we can pull it out and the next thing we do before we put it away is we wanna make sure that everything was done properly. So we’ll be looking to see that the arrows have changed color and had been properly autoclaved before we put it away. Our tape will have changed color on our wrapped items. Our indicator will also have changed color to allow us to know that it’s been fully sterilized, and then we know that all these items have been sterilized properly and now we can put them away in the clean drawers where they’re kept until they’re used for a procedure.


If you have any questions about Scican, Midmark or Tuttnauer autoclaves please do not hesitate to reach out via any channel, email us at info@statimusa.com or call us at 704-966-1650. You can also visit us on the web at StatimUSA.com.  We are your #1 resource for Sales, Service, Repair and parts for your autoclave and sterilizer needs!



Courtesy of  http://whatcom.edu/academics/elearning (Whatcom Community College) – Translated



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