Is the Annual PM Performed by My Sterilizer Technician the Same As a Validation?


The technicians who service and repair autoclaves perform many essential tasks that keep our autoclaves functioning and are vital resources for sterile processing technicians. Not only do they repair the autoclaves when they are broken, but they also help prevent downtime by performing preventative maintenance inspections on the thousands of components that make up autoclaves and are therefore able to correct minor issues before they become major issues. After inspection, the functionality of the autoclave is tested by running an abbreviated cycle (typically an air removal test) and the results are documented. Validation studies focus on performance rather than components. General observations may be noted during the study, such as process indicators being stored above the autoclave, etc. The technician performing the validation study does not typically correct these issues, but does communicate with the SPD manager to make them aware. Validations are based on the empirical data collected using precision measuring tools that collect up to 60,000 data points throughout a terminal sterilization cycle. This data is analyzed to make sure that all of the parameters for sterilization are being met as per AAMI ST79: 2017. Validation studies are also helpful tools for sterilizer technicians to use to pinpoint potential causes of less than optimum autoclave performance. Validation studies are not the same as, nor are they meant to replace the annual PM’s. They are simply a test to ensure that our autoclaves are doing what we think that they are doing.