Steam sterilization in hospitals: a guide to choosing the right autoclave – Steam sterilization in hospitals has been present as a method since the late 19th/early 20th century. In this article, you will learn more about how these machines work, their benefits, and how certain types differ from each other. All to help you choose the right autoclave!
This is how steam sterilization helps hospitals maintain a safe work environment
Steam sterilization in hospitals is done via on-site machines known as autoclaves. They are like pressure cookers that come in different sizes (more compact models for operating theaters, larger models for general use in hospitals). They have 2 main benefits:
1. Being able to treat hospital waste on-site. No need to deal with the “traditional” risks of storing and storing infectious waste, since the medical waste will already be sterile – free from any potentially hazardous materials.
2. Being able to treat certain hospital tools and equipment on-site. No need to throw away useful equipment like surgical tools. Sterile equipment can be reused without any risk of infection. Not to mention no surgical equipment is allowed for use unless it is sterile.
As the name implies, steam sterilization in hospitals is achieved with high-temperature steam under pressure. With temperatures ranging between 121 and 134 degrees Celsius, even bacteria that would otherwise resist heat can be removed efficiently from the surface of autoclave-compatible materials.
Incineration vs steam sterilization in hospitals
Apart from steam sterilization, incineration can also be a viable option in hospitals for treating hazardous waste that is not compatible with autoclaves like medical chemical waste or expired pharmaceuticals. However, no matter how popular, the method does have certain disadvantages, such as:
- Useful only for destroying – high-temperature incineration presents no option for the reuse of tools.
- Higher capital and operational costs.
- Needs more time and space to be installed.
- Risk of air pollution.
Autoclaves present a much more modern and sustainable solution for hospitals. Steam sterilization is achieved in a closed vessel, with much less energy being used for treating waste and tools.
What kind of equipment or waste can a hospital autoclave treat with steam sterilization?
It always depends on the model chosen, but usually, a modern hospital autoclave can treat the following materials during the steam sterilization process:
- Metallic medical tools, surgical instruments
- Hospital linens, textile materials, paper
- Polypropylene and polycarbonate plastics, plastic pipette tips
- Latex gloves, vinyl
- Culture media solutions
- Biological tissue culture flasks and plates
- Contaminated solid items (blood, bodily fluids)
Steam sterilization in hospital: autoclave types
There are many different autoclave manufacturers in the world. While different categorizations exist, there are usually 2 main types of steam sterilizers: gravity and vacuum-based machines (the latter models are also known as “Class B” autoclaves).
For example, steam sterilization in hospitals with Celitron’s autoclaves can be much easier. This European manufacturer provides medical facilities with the same reliable performance offered by vacuum autoclaves, regardless of the chamber capacity of the model chosen.
Compared to gravity autoclaves, class B steam sterilizers are not only faster but can also treat more types of loads in their chamber. They are also a better investment for the long-term thanks to advanced water and energy-saving systems.