Australasian Dental Practice

Tuesday, 23 July, 2024

01 Apr 2003 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 14

IC monitoring to get cheaper

Daily infection control costs in Australasian dental practices are set to fall with changes to AS/NZS Standards allowing less expensive "Process challenge devices" to be used to monitor autoclaves in addition to the traditional and more expensive Bowie Dick test.


The publication of Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS:2003 edition and the revision of AS/NZS 4825, which is about to be released for public comment, include revisions relating to the monitoring requirements of steam sterilisers.

In cases where table-top pre-vacuum sterilisers are being installed or have been either repaired, serviced or calibrated, the Bowie Dick test will remain the gold standard.

However, daily monitoring of sterilisers may soon be able to be completed with optional "process challenge devices" which include the Helix Test (pictured) that cost around $1 per cycle. Currently, the Bowie Dick test must be used to certify autoclave effectiveness daily.

The Helix Test comprises a long, coiled tube of plastic which varies in length depending on the capacity of the autoclave. One end is open and the other end is encased in a metal cylinder. The lid on the end of the metal cylinder is unscrewed and a test strip is mounted on a cradle connected to the lid and replaced. The device is then autoclaved.

If steam travels the entire length of the plastic tube and reaches the test strip enclosed in the metal cylinder, indicated by a colour change, then the sterilisation process has been validated.

Helix test kits are considered more easily understood and "in line" with the European pr/EN 13060, which will become "accepted" as the final Standard sometime during 2003.

The work done by the ADA and ADIA to ensure Australian Standards are inline with European and soon to be International Standards, is to be commended.

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