Medical equipment is commonly sterilized in autoclaves. They are also used in microbiology laboratories. Autoclaves are available in many sizes. The smallest is a stovetop pressure cooker. Countertop models are used in dentist’s offices and small medical clinics. Large solid-state controlled autoclaves are common in laboratories and hospitals. All autoclaves have temperature and pressure gauges, as well as a timer. Quarterly calibration of the autoclave timer and gauges is important to insure that proper sterilization is occurring.
- Set the timer on the autoclave for a full cycle. Hold the stopwatch and be prepared to click it.
- Turn on the autoclave and the stopwatch simultaneously.
- Repeat the process if the time and the stopwatch do not match.
- If the autoclave timer differs from the stopwatch time by more than 30 seconds, post an appropriate correction factor directly on the autoclave.
- Note the calibration results in a logbook.
- Temperature Calibration
- Place the maximum registering thermometer near the built-in temperature sensor.
- Load and operate the autoclave as usual.
- Record the maximum autoclave temperature according to the built-in temperature display.
- Let the autoclave cool.
- Remove the maximum registering thermometer from the autoclave and record the temperature reading in the logbook.
- Record the discrepancy if the maximum temperature of the built-in display is different from the maximum temperature on the registering thermometer.
- Post a correction factor on the autoclave control panel if the temperatures were different.
- Pressure Calibration
- Calibrate the timer and temperature gauges before these steps.
- Load and operate the autoclave as usual. When the temperature display shows 121 degrees Celsius, the pressure gauge should show 15 pounds per square inch (15 psi).
- Record the discrepancy if there is any.
- Mark the correct point for 15 psi on the cover of the gauge and post a correction factor on the autoclave if this is not true.
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