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Autoclaving: The Different Stages of Sterilizing Medical Equipment

What is autoclaving? Autoclaving is the process of sterilizing tools and small equipment to make them safe for use once again. This is the case when the equipment involved is valuable and essential. This piece of equipment is commonly found in health care facilities, laboratories, surgical theatres, and some pharmaceutical facilities. You can easily save costs by disinfecting certain types of medical waste. This reduces the size of the medical waste and makes the job easier for medical waste disposal services. All they need do is to pick up the waste, load it into their waste vehicle, and then to the disposal facility. Upon arrival at the facility, the medical waste might not sterilize the medical waste, thanks to the autoclaving process.

Autoclaving machines are available in different sizes, according to your specific needs. However, regardless of the brand, style, and design you opt for, they all perform the same function: killing germs. The machine comes with different temperature levels and runs through a number of cycles. Choose an autoclave that has just the design feature and functionality that fits your business. This includes cycling or vacuum.

Sterilizing medical equipment to kill germs and other infectious pathogens on heat requires a level of heat. Steam comes in handy when it comes to producing the heat required to sterilize this piece of medical equipment. How does is this done? The steam breaks down cellular proteins and causing them to coagulate. How long it takes to sterilize medical equipment depends largely on the level of heat the autoclave produces.

How Do Autoclaves Sterilize?

The sterilization process has to go through several phases. These include

  • Purge stage: At this stage, the steam gets warmed up to the desired temperature as set by the operator.

  • Exposure Stage: Otherwise known as the sterilization stage, the exhaust valve of the autoclave shuts off, further increasing internal pressure and temperature to the desired setting. The equipment operates at this level for a specified period of time.

  • Exhaust Stage: During this stage, the pressure is released from the sterilization chamber through a valve and interior pressure, after which the heat level returns to its default setting.

The size of your facility will determine the size of autoclaving machine that fits your need. You can find an autoclave the size of a microwave or one the size of a refrigerator. Some of these machines can stretch for 25 ft in length and 10 ft in height. You should know that smaller sizes will not exceed of equipment or medical waste for which it is built. The temperature levels mostly common in medical facilities include 250° to 300°F.

Autoclaving Rules

Operations might be limited if a professional healthcare facility does not have the certification and permission to operate. This is also true for uninsured companies. Autoclaving is no exception. Medical waste disposal services comply with all the regulations while also advising healthcare facilities on the best waste management practices.

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