Autoclave-Definition And Method Of Using
Autoclave is an apparatus or machine that uses steam to sterilize hospital equipment under pressure. When the pressure of the steam is increased, the temperature also increases which leads to a complete destruction of any living micro-organism.
When hospital equipment are exposed to low temperatures for a long time, autoclaving is required to sterilize the equipment. Autoclaving is known as the best method used to sterilize hospital equipment. For instance: the kidney dishes, gallipots, bowls, linen etc. Then for other hospital equipment (Endoscope) that can be damaged or destroyed by the autoclave machine during sterilization can be sterilized using other method of sterilization.
Atmospheric pressure at sea level is 100 kilonewtons per square meter (15 pounds per square inch) or 1 bar. By increasing the pressure by 1 bar, the temperature of steam is is increased to 121 degree centigrade. The maximum temperature for most hospital equipment is 134 degree centigrade.
There are two major important factors that you should know for effective sterilization; they are:
- Time of exposure to steam
Using autoclave apparatus sterilization is achieved in a shorter time when higher temperatures are used. But the more hospital equipment you pack into the autoclave apparatus, it will take the steam more time to sterilize the equipment. And the lesser the equipment, the lesser the time for the steam to sterilize the equipment in the autoclave machine.
HOW TO USE AUTOCLAVE MACHINE
- The autoclave door should be closed securely and checked to eliminate the possible danger of an explosion.
- The materials that are to be sterilized are stacked in the inner chamber of the autoclave. The autoclave inner chamber should not be tightly packed so that the steam should be able to penetrate into the depth of each packet.
- The autoclave chamber air exhaust tap should be open and the air inlet tap should be closed.
- When the steam is emitting freely from the air exhaust openings, it is assumed that all the all the air has been pushed out of the chamber, but a little more time should be given to allow the steam to replace the air in the dressing container.
- When you close the air exhaust taps, you will notice that the pressure reading begins or start rising.
- The two taps that are allowing steam to enter the inner chamber of the autoclave machine should be opened.
- The time of sterilizing is taken from the time at which the pressure reading reaches the correct level for the particular equipment to be sterilized. If the temperature reading is less than it should be, it shows or indicate that all the air has not been evacuated from the chamber.
- Vacuum pump should be switched on if drying is necessary in order to extract moisture from the inner chamber and the steam circulates in outer chamber to provide heat which help in drying.
- After sterilization, the steam supply should be turned off, the exhaust taps and tap allowing filtered air to enter are opened.
- After drying, the sterilized equipment should be removed from the machine and stored. May be the equipment being distributed to various wards.
BEFORE THIS EQUIPMENT OR MATERIALS ARE STERILIZED IN THE AUTOCLAVE, MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE WASHED THOROUGHLY. ESPECIALLY THE LINEN , RINSE WITH COLD WATER AFTER USE, WASH WITH HOT SOAPY WATER AND RINSE AGAIN.
NOTE THAT COLD TEMPERATURES INHIBITS THE GROWTH OF MICRO-ORGANISMS AND IT DOES NOT KILL OR DESTROY THEM. THERE IS NO MACHINE OR APPARATUS THAT CAN KILL MICRO-ORGANISMS USING LOW TEMPERATURE.
REFRIGERATORS TEMPERATURES ARE BETWEEN 4 DEGREES CENTIGRADE AND 6 DEGREE CENTIGRADE.
THEN FOR DEEP FREEZER IS -37 DEGREE CENTIGRADE AND FOR COLD STORAGE ROOM IS BETWEEN -10 DEGREES CENTIGRADE AND 7 DEGREES CENTIGRADE