Home BusinessChemical Indicators 101: Applications for Use
Chemical Indicators 101: Applications for Use

Chemical Indicators 101: Applications for Use

Since the 1st steam sterilizer was made by Charles Chamberland in 1880, researchers been employed by on solutions to monitor sterilization procedures. It was not before past due 1940s and early 1950s that biological and chemical substance indicators were utilized routinely to monitor the procedure. At that period, it had been expressed that no quality-assurance monitoring technique assures that almost everything can be sterile: rather, it assures that the circumstances for sterilization that occurs were met. That extremely statement continues to be valid in todays health care environment.

As sterilization processes have grown to be and evolved more technical, so have the monitoring systems that people use. Sterility assurance applications may consist of the next tools that healthcare administration can use:

Physical monitoring
Chemical indicators/integrators
Biological indicators
Sterilizer preventative maintenance
Load record keeping This content discusses chemical substance indicators/integrators (CIs).
Chemical indicators are described by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) as sterilization process monitoring devices made to respond with a chemical substance or physical change to 1 or even more of the physical conditions within the sterilizing chamber. CIs can be used to find sterilizer malfunction/failures caused by improper loading of the sterilizer, incorrect product packaging, deficiencies of the sterilizing agent, or malfunction of the sterilizer itself.

Remember, the move reading of a CI will not mean that the item or items in the sterilizer load are sterile; it means that the parameter or parameters for sterilization that the CI was designed to measure have been met. The utilization of CIs is only one portion of an effective quality assurance system. They should be used in conjunction with a biological indicator (spore test ), physical monitors, a sterilizer preventative maintenance system, and accurate record keeping for each sterilization load.

Chemical Indicator Classifications

AAMI ST-60 defines five classes of CIs and the specific performance requirements for each.

Process Indicators (Class 1): The most basic of chemical indicators, they are also known as throughput indicators. These CIs are intended for use with individual items to become sterilized. They are designed to demonstrate that the item has been exposed to a sterilization process and to distinguish between processed and non-processed items. Types of Course 1 indicators are tape and the indicators entirely on plastic-type material or paper peel pouches.

Indicators for Make use of in specific Tests ( Course 2): Also referred to as specialty indicators, Class 2 indicators are made for use in particular test procedures since defi ned by relevant sterilization criteria. Examples of Course 2 indicators will be the Bowie Dart and Dick items found in steam sterilizers. These indicators check for the existence of surroundings in the steam sterilizing chamber. A positive check would mean that surroundings, which inhibits the circumstances necessary for sterilization, provides either not really been removed through the routine or provides entered the chamber through leakages in the machine. Maintenance should be performed on the steam sterilizer to prevent the existence of air flow in the chamber during a sterilization cycle.

Single-parameter Indicators (Class 3): These indicators react to one of the critical process parameters of sterilization and indicate exposure to a sterilization cycle at stated values of the chosen parameter. Critical parameters typically chosen for steam sterilization processes are time or temp.

Multi-parameter Indicators (Class 4): These indicators are more accurate by design than Class 3 indicators. They react to two or more essential parameters of the sterilization process and indicate exposure to the sterilization cycle at mentioned values of the chosen parameters. Time and temp are examples of steam sterilization parameters, and concentration and time of ethylene oxide are chosen for EO sterilization.

Integrating Indicators (Class 5): These indicators, referred to as integrators, are created to respond to all critical parameters more than a specified selection of sterilization cycles. Their functionality provides been correlated to the functionality of a biological indicator (BI) under its labeled circumstances for use. This course of indicator can be utilized instead of the BI in lots of applications, reducing the entire cost of sterile digesting thereby.

Usage of Chemical Indicators
When considering which course of indicator to use, you need to think about your internal and external chemical substance monitoring needs for your various sterilization systems.

External indicators are simply used to distinguish between processed and unprocessed items. A Class 1 indicator in the type of tape, an indicating label, or the indicator legend on a paper or plastic material peel pouch is appropriate and should be placed on each package that is intended for sterilization. The external CI usually exhibits a simple visual color modify that shows the package has been exposed to physical conditions present during a sterilization process.

Internal indicators need to be used within each package that’ll be sterilized. Based on the complexity of the pack and products within them, a Class 3, Class 4, or Class 5 CI can be used. All internal CIs should be placed in an area of the package that is determined to be the least accessible to sterilant contact. This may not always be in the center of the package.

AAMI states that a Class 5 indicator may serve as the basis for the release of processed items, excluding implants.

Integrator challenge packs utilize a Class 5 chemical integrator within an appropriate problem pack to monitor sterilization loads. The task packs are positioned within the sterilization load, beyond your packs, in the sterilization chamber, and also have been correlated to the destroy accomplished in the AAMI 16 towel BI test pack. The full total result of the chemical substance integrator enable you to release the load, excluding implantable devices.

Results of exterior indicators and chemical substance integrator challenge packs could be read by the end of the sterilization cycle when the package is retrieved from the sterilizer. However , internal indicators must be interpreted at the time of use. Therefore all healthcare personnel should be trained on the proper interpretation of a positive and negative result and what to do if a negative result occurs.

Be an Informed Consumer
In order to be an educated consumer you must be familiar with the parameters you wish to monitor, which will help you select the type or class of indicator(s) to get. Healthcare management should inquire the indicator producer for dependability data and for the protection and efficiency characteristics of their items. Queries to ask include:

Will be the indicator results simple to interpret?

Is it possible to store the indicator outcomes for a time period?

What sterilization parameters shall the indicator detect?

Is it biologically correlated? If so, what are the specifics (organism, D-value, population)?

Does the indicator have a shelf life and what are the required storage conditions?

By asking these simple questions, you will ensure the correct choice of indicators to meet your quality assurance needs.

John A. Kurowski, BS, RN, is a global clinical education manager for STERIS Corporation. He provides education and training to STERIS employees and healthcare facilities in the areas of infection prevention, the proper use of STERIS products, and proper cleaning, decontamination, and sterilization techniques and procedures. He has been a featured speaker for both the local and national Association of periOperative Room Nurses (AORN), the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), and the Society for Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA). He is an active member of these organizations.

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