Temperature and Pressure Standards for Autoclaves in Health Settings?
Autoclaves are mainly used for industrial/commercial applications or in healthcare services. An autoclave is a tool that depends on steam under pressure to destroy harmful spores, bacteria, fungi, and viruses on objects that are inside a pressure vessel. These items are heated to the appropriate sterilization temperature for a certain amount of time.
Autoclaves are often used in healthcare settings to disinfect medical or scientific objects or materials such as surgical instruments or vessels. The pieces to be disinfected are placed inside a pressure vessel, generally known as the chamber. They are three factors that ensure successful steam sterilization of an autoclave. These are steam quality, temperature, and time.
Here are three phases that you need to know.
- Conditioning Phase (C): In this phase, air will be removed from the chamber because air will slow the sterilization process.This phase is called conditioning. In this first phase, air can be removed from the chamber with the use of a vacuum system.
- Exposure Phase (S): In this next phase, the sterilizer drain closes and then steam is allowed to be admitted into the chamber. The steam drastically increases the temperature and pressure inside the vessel to a predetermined level.
- Exhaust Phase (E): In this final phase, steam needs to be exhausted. The sterilizer drain is unlocked and steam is removed.
Generally, the recommended temperatures for steam sterilization are 121 degrees Celsius, 132 degrees Celsius or 135 degrees Celsius. The temperature used depends on the specific autoclave being used and at what temperature the machine was designed to run. To destroy any germs present, the materials inside the autoclave being disinfected should be exposed to the above temperatures for the minimum time determined by the manufacturer of the autoclave.
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