Why is a sterilization monitoring service valuable to my dental practice?
Over the last decade, appropriate infection control procedures for dental practices have been mandated by the American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as many State Boards of Dentistry, including Georgia’s. Although the constituencies of these agencies may be different, one common goal is to minimize the risk of transmitting infectious agents while delivering dental heath care.
Included within these mandated guidelines is a recommendation for weekly biological monitoring of sterilization equipment. Because the destruction of endospores has been the benchmark of sterilization since the autoclave was invented, the only test of sterilization effectiveness accepted by regulatory agencies such as O.S.H.A. and state boards is endospore testing. Although heat sensitive tape or bag markings indicate that packages have gone through a sterilizing process, they do not verify sterilization.
The rationale for maintaining sterilizing conditions that will destroy endospores is simply that spores are more resistant to destruction by heat than are viruses, fungi and vegetative bacteria. Their assumption is that if conditions exist which will kill spores, than all other forms of infectious agents will also be killed.
Dental practices have the option of performing weekly biological monitoring in house. However, there are some disadvantages to self testing. First, there is considerable expense involved in purchasing both spore strips themselves as well as incubating equipment and, in some cases, growth media. Second, office personnel must be trained and once trained need time to perform the tests and document and file test results. This is time not available for delivering dental healthcare.
Finally, there may be a question concerning the veracity of self-testing. However, where offices do choose to self test, it is considered in the practitioner’s best interest to have independent verification regularly. For this reason, the Augusta University offers monthly testing in addition to the more convenient weekly testing interval.
The Department of Oral Biology at the Augusta University Dental College of Georgia offers dentists a Serialization Monitoring Service using endospores. This service offers you an easy to use, time efficient and reliable method to verify the effectiveness of your sterilization equipment.
Operation of the sterilization monitoring service
Sterilizer test strips will be provided to subscribers of the monitoring service. The test strip is cycled through your sterilizer and returned for analysis in the postage paid envelope provided.
Your test strip will be quickly processed and if the results are positive (non-sterile), you will be notified immediately. Otherwise, you will receive a written report quarterly on every test strip submitted for analysis, which provides documentation when proof of sterilization is required.
We work in conjunction with Cottrell, a recognized leader in spore strip manufacturing to provide the best and most reliable service possible.
In the event of continued problems with your sterilization procedures, the Augusta University Dental College of Georgia will provide a consultation service to help you solve your sterilization problems and answer other questions you may have regarding office asepsis.
The test strips work with steam, dry heat and chemical vapor sterilizers, are easy to use and provide third-party verification of sterilization.
How to subscribe
Click and complete the application below and send it with your check, made payable to the AU Dental Associates. You will receive your test strips and complete instructions for their use. Additional strips will be provided regularly. We also will send you a certificate of participation, suitable for framing, which can be displayed in your office.