Feb 22, 2017

The value of a positive vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilization monitoring biological indicator

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The value of a positive VH2O2 BI

Sterilization monitoring expertise 

Since the 3M™ Attest™ System was created, it has monitored over 850 million sterilization cycles worldwide for steam and ethylene oxide. That same scientific research and development is now applied to the vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VH2O2) sterilization modality, which to-date has monitored approximately 500,000 cycles and has since received industry recognition as a 2016 Excellence in Surgical Products (ESP) Award winner!  With all of the information collected over the past four decades from users, we have become experts when it comes to biological indicator sterilization monitoring in healthcare facilities.

Challenging sterilization practices

Asking questions and researching technologies are some of the most important things anyone can do to become better and more efficient – and that is how we work. Biological indicators (BIs) by definition provide a strong challenge – they are the only monitor containing viable microorganisms and are intended to demonstrate whether or not the conditions were adequate to achieve sterilization.  Over the past few months the 3M Monitoring Technical team has been having great conversations about vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilization. Some users of the 3M™ Attest™ Rapid Readout Biological Indicator 1295 for Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide have seen positive biological indicators (failed cycles). To some this was alarming, since they have never experienced a failed load with vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilization – but to us, this was an opportunity to really look at what was happening inside these sterilizers. Working together we discovered some very interesting real world challenges. We found common errors that caused positive BI’s due to the following:

  • Improper loading of the sterilizer chamber
  • Overloading the sterilizer chamber
  • Use of  incompatible materials
  • Over filling rigid containers
  • And, even using the wrong type of packaging

Some of these issues can change the chemistry of the vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilant resulting in decomposition – meaning the molecular bonds come apart and/or change making the cycle less effective/lethal for some items in the load.

The fact that these conversations are now happening in the industry, and throughout the world, is good news! This dialogue is now helping sterile processing departments learn more and raise the standard of safety they deliver to the operating room and patients. Speed will always be important, but there is also tremendous value with consistency across sterilization modalities, and the advantage of support beyond a single modality. These materials are some of the most common and useful tools we have been delivering users:

For more help and live support you can talk to a sterilization monitoring technical expert by phone (1-800-441-1922, option 2)or submit a question online.

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