Biological indicators are the most trusted means of verifying that an autoclave is properly sterilizing equipment and instruments. By screening for the presence of the most resistant microbial contaminants, the biological monitoring process helps to ensure that an autoclave is properly ridding instruments of all dangerous contaminants and pathogens. The process should be undertaken on a regular basis by the sterilization staff of healthcare facilities, as it is ultimately the responsibility of the healthcare provider to prevent contamination.
Biological monitoring products are available for steam, dry heat and gas autoclaves. Customers can purchase complete systems or kits or packs of 5 or 25 controls. Starter kits are also available and are particularly useful for facilities that have recently opened or added a new autoclave to their equipment collection.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that autoclaves be monitored and tested for proper functioning at least once a week. Biological monitoring should also be considered when the following circumstances arise: