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Mechanical and Chemical Monitoring of Sterilizers in a Dental Office

Order Spore Check SystemMost state dental boards require dental offices to verify proper sterilizer function at least weekly using a biological indicator, such as a spore test. However, because spore tests are only performed periodically (i.e. weekly) and the results are usually not obtained immediately, mechanical and chemical monitoring of each sterilization cycle should also be performed. Mechanical and chemical indicators do not guarantee sterilization; however, they help detect procedural errors and equipment malfunctions.

Mechanical monitoring involves checking the sterilizer gauges, computer displays, or printouts, and documenting the sterilization pressure, temperature, and exposure time. Since these parameters can be observed during each sterilization cycle, this might be the first indication of a problem.

Chemical monitoring uses sensitive chemicals that change color when exposed to high temperatures or combinations of time and temperature, with results obtained immediately following each sterilization cycle. Examples include chemical indicator tapes, strips or tabs, and special markings on packaging materials. TheUS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend chemical indicators inside and outside every package of instruments. If the appropriate color change does not occur, do not use the instruments.

All dental healthcare personnel who operate the sterilizer(s) in the office should receive training on sterilizer monitoring procedures, manufacturer-recommended equipment maintenance, and proper recordkeeping.

OSHA Review, Inc. a registered continuing education provider in the State of California, specializing in Dental Practice Act, infection control, and Cal/OSHA training. OSHA Review subscribers in California receive updated regulatory compliance and infection control training thorough our bi-monthly newsletter.

In addition, OSHA Review, Inc. provides sterilizer monitoring services in all 50 states through the Spore Check System. The Spore Check System is endorsed by the Arizona, Ohio and Texas Dental Association.


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