Introduction: Autoclaving Instruments

My name is Courtney and I am an Expanded Function Dental Assistant. Infection control is one of the biggest concerns in the dental office. I have been sterilizing instruments this way for a year now and I was taught be the best at Lake Area Technical Institute. I am going to show the proper steps in running the Autoclave for instrument sterilization because if it is not done correctly it is possible for diseases to be transmitted from patient to patient.

Step 1: Equipment

Things needed include the autoclave, my office uses the Midmark. Instruments and distilled water is used to ensure sterilization as tap water is not sterile. Sterilization packs approved by a dental office supplier. A marker is needed, and utility gloves which better protect yourself from the sharp instruments and eyewear.

Step 2: Step One:

First ensure enough distilled water is in the machine by opening the door and checking the tubing located on the left. The water level should be in the green, if not add more distilled water in the hole or slot right above the tubing.

Step 3: Step Two:

Next , turn the machine on. The machine might already be on if it has been ran previously that day check to ensure by looking at the screen on the machine and/or pushing the power button.

Step 4: Step Three:

Ensure to place your utility gloves, and eyewear before handling any instruments. This is to be sure the operator is protected from any bioburden preventing patient to staff transmission.

Step 5: Step Four:

Take the sterilization pack and open it slightly, fold along the slotted line, and lie the packing flat on countertop, translucent side up so you can see how the instruments are being placed into the bag. Insert the instruments keeping the pack flat, ensuring not to poke any holes in the package.

Step 6: Step Five:

Then, seal the pack by pulling the opaque pull tab off the top above the slotted line folded along previously make sure the fold is alone the slotted line and evenly sealed half of the sticky tab on the translucent part of the pack and the other half on the paper part of the pack.

Step 7: Step Six:

Initial and date the pack with a marker. Using a pen increases your chances of poking a hole in the bag and sterilization not being completed.

Step 8: Step Seven:

Using caution, place the packs in the autoclave paper side up separating each slightly. The allows for the steam to penetrate and be released from the packs properly. Also, allow larger packs that might block the steam to be placed on the bottom shelf of the autoclave.

Step 9: Step Eight

Before the machine is started, close the door by lifting the handle outside the machine. Put the handle back down after the door is fully closed. After the autoclave is filled, press the wrapped instrument button, then start. The Autoclave runs on four cycles, the heat up cycle, sterilization cycle, depressurization cycle, and the drying cycle and the time it will take depends on manufactures instructions and what brand of autoclave the office has.

Step 10: Final Step:

Wash hands and replace gloves and at the end of the cycle. Remove the clean packs with caution. All sterilization packs have process indicators on the outside of the pack if a color change happens it means your autoclave reaches a certain temperature and pressure. If the colors have changed, place the packs where they are stored properly.

Step 11: