Autoclave sterilizers provide hospitals with an extremely reliable method for sterilizing their medical instruments. Read on to learn more about how they can destroy all kinds of foreign materials present on hospital equipment, surgical tools, medical waste, and more!
Why are autoclaves used more and more in hospitals for the sterilization of medical instruments?
Autoclaves are particularly adept at sterilizing all manners of medical tools and waste and ridding them of potentially hazardous bacteria. NOTE: cleaning and disinfecting medical equipment is NOT the same as sterilizing it. Only through sterilization can medical staff be absolutely sure that the instruments that had previously been used for the treatment of patients can safely be used again without the risks of infections spreading to other people.
Apart from being extremely reliable, autoclaves are also quite user-friendly, especially modern class B models that operate automatically. Medical staff can use them without any particular technical qualifications, and sterilize load after load efficiently and quickly. Not to mention that autoclave are an onsite method that can easily be incorporated into the waste management system of a medical facility. This also means that the risks associated with storing and transporting waste from the hospital will be reduced, since the waste itself will already be sterilized.
How do autoclaves handle the sterilization of medical instruments in hospitals?
The steam sterilization process of autoclaves uses steam at elevated pressure and temperatures that range between 121 and 134 degrees Celsius. This allows autoclaves to kill even heat-resistant foreign materials, making them a very dependable method for the treatment of medical instruments and waste in hospitals.
By removing the air inside their chamber they allow the steam to reach every part of the load inside to make sure it is thoroughly treated. High temperatures are achieved by an increase in pressure which simultaneously increases the boiling point of water and steam.
This entire process can be finished in about 20 minutes, which can of course vary depending on the type and size of load that needs to be sterilized.
Is there a difference in how different hospital autoclaves handle the sterilization of medical instruments?
Autoclaves can usually be differentiated by 2 main factors: size and class.
Size not only covers the space required for the autoclave to be installed, but the capacity of their chamber and how many medical instruments can be sterilized at a time. Steam sterilizers come in many different sizes, but in the case of larger medical facilities like hospitals, larger models (or at the very least medium steam sterilizers) should be chosen. The capacity of these autoclaves can range between 75 liters to even 880 liters.
As for the autoclave’s class, this mainly covers the types of materials that can be treated with the machine.
- Class N autoclaves: lowest class, can only be used for the simplest loads.
- Class S autoclaves: medium class. More versatility, but not quite as effective as class B models.
- Class B autoclaves: the most advanced and versatile models, as well as the fastest. Makes it much easier for hospitals to work efficiently.