Recently, one of our senior compliance advisors was inspecting a practice and noticed several spore tests resulted in failures. When quizzing the sterilization technician, the advisor asked what the practice’s procedure was for a “fail” result. The technician replied that it immediately would conduct another test and send it off.
Several things can cause a spore test failure, including operator errors such as overpacking the autoclave. When the technician was asked if any other steps would be taken, it was apparent a procedure was never thought through.
Grasping for straws, the technician came up with ideas that included re-sterilizing the instruments. When asked which ones would be re-sterilized, the technician blurted, “Well, we’d have to re-sterilize all of them!”
Which leads us to this compliance tip: Date stamp your sterilization pouches!
If your pouches are stamped with the date of sterilization, should an autoclave failure occur, your office will know which instruments to re-sterilize—and won’t need to sterilize the entire inventory of instruments.
Read IFUs, and do further research if necessary.
You’ll hear this refrain in our compliance tips: When in doubt, refer to the manufacturer’s IFU (instructions for use). All products and equipment should come with them. In addition, organizations such as OSAP and the CDC usually offer great guidance that’s evidence-based.
Don’t guess when you encounter the unexpected—especially when it comes to employee or patient safety. Procedures long thought out by professionals are available; and information on how to handle adverse situations correctly is practically at anyone’s fingertips.
For information on how to monitor the sterilization process, visit the CDC’s website.