By Lee Slaton, Smart Training

Have you completed spore testing recently? Untested autoclaves can lead to sick patients. They also leave a practice owner open to stiff fines; even suspension of his or her license.

Texas State Board Rule 108.24 states that “sterilization equipment and its adequacy shall be tested and verified in accord with the American Dental Association recommendations.”

Since Texas regulations recognize ADA recommendations as State guidelines, testing isn’t an optional exercise. But we’ve inspected several practices that were not adhering to ADA guidelines.

Here are two tips for spore-testing compliance.

Test Weekly—Without Fail.

Both ADA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend autoclave spore testing at weekly intervals.

Staying in compliance with spore testing requirements can especially be a challenge if your staff skips a week due to vacations or schedule changes.

If the staff member in charge of spore testing drops the ball, how can you avoid long gaps that can make your office non-compliant?

  • Set a reminder alert in your office’s computer calendar.
  • Place a reminder next to the sterilizer to run a weekly spore test.
  • Give testing responsibility to two employees, instead of one.

Keep Records for 3 Years.

Has your office completed spore tests, but neglected to send the specimens in to be examined? Or maybe your office doesn’t keep records of the test results.

[Revised] Smart Training strongly recommends that records be kept for a minimum of three years; a recommendation based on the highest standards and absence of clear guidance from Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.

Several testing companies supply biological indicators that are returned to the company’s lab to determine if a practice’s autoclave is functioning properly. (TDA Perks partner OSHA Review is one.)

There are also several companies that provide testing kits that allow practices to test and see results on-site in their own offices.

If administered in a timely and proper way, either spore-testing method ensures compliance with Texas regulations.