Your Sterilizer is Down, Now What?

Sterilization Practices

It is another day in the Sterile Processing Department at your hospital. You begin your day off by organizing the medical equipment into the sterilization containers, and then make sure the lid is positioned correctly and wrapped. You then place the container into the sterilizer, shut the door, start the machine, and then you hear a loud noise coming from the back room. Oh no! You enter the back room and behind the sterilizers, you notice steam spraying upward, water dripping all over the floor, and feel the temperature in the room rising steadily. What do you do? You call the Biomed department. They are busy and are unfamiliar with the sterilizer. You alert your manager who then calls the manufacturer. They have a 3-6 week backlog. Now what? You cannot just leave it and wait. Surgeries, doctors, nurses, and patients are all relying on properly sterilized medical equipment. Who do you call for support? ERD Medical Equipment Solutions!

Keeping autoclaves in working order improves productivity, reduces downtime, extends the life of the autoclave, and helps to ensure overall safety in the workplace. Here are some basic tips to help you maintain your equipment:

Daily Maintenance:

  • Make sure the chamber drain strainer (located in the front drain hole of the sterilizer) is completely free of debris. A clogged chamber drain strainer will prevent the sterilizer from sensing temperature.
  • Immediately wipe up any spills in the autoclave chamber with chamber cleaning solution and cleaning pads.
  • If your autoclave is equipped with a steam generator, it may have an automatic generator blowdown valve on it. If it does not, you should manually blow down the generator daily (depending on water quality). This will help flush settled debris and sediment out of the pressure tank, keeping the generator clean. All generators are different, so make sure to check your owner’s manual for the OEMs specific instructions.

Weekly Maintenance:

  • Flush chamber with clean water. This is necessary if saline solutions are being sterilized. Depending on the type of goods being sterilized, the chamber may also require scrub cleaning (or another type) regularly.
  • Inspect door gasket for pitting or warping. If you see either one of these, it may be time to replace it.
  • Visually check for water and/or steam leaks. If you see a leak, find the root cause and have it repaired as soon as possible.

Note: Always check the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance items and make sure you add their recommendations into your daily and weekly maintenance schedules.

Professional Maintenance:
Your autoclave maintenance should undergo more thorough cleaning and inspection by trained biomedical solutions providers. Maintenance frequency is based on the manufacturer’s recommendations but can sometimes be adjusted based on usage. Generally, maintenance is required anywhere from one to four times per year. Always check your manufacturer’s recommendations.

ERD has certified biomedical solutions providers that are on-call and can be on-site in a short amount of time. Our biomeds are factory OEM trained, so you can be assured you’re getting the best service for the best price, and your equipment will be ready to use in the shortest amount of time.

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