The issue of infection control has taken on greater significance in the last several years. This has culminated in the publication by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of recommendations for preventing transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) to patients during exposure-prone procedures.
Additionally, federal and state government agencies and the American Dental Association (ADA) have established guidelines which outline strict infection control practices for dental offices. Among these procedures is the proper sterilization of instruments.
Included in the guidelines of the CDC, ADA, and OSAP (Office Sterilization and Asepsis Procedures Research Foundation) is the standard that biological monitoring should be used weekly. Several states have added legislation requiring weekly biological monitoring of sterilization equipment.
Heat sensitive tape and bag markings do not ensure that sterilization has been accomplished. Sterilization quality control can only be achieved through the use of calibrated biological indicators (endospores).
These organisms are difficult to kill because they are more resistant to heat than other viruses and vegetative bacteria. Therefore, if they are killed during sterilization, it is assumed all other life forms, including Herpes, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, and HIV are also destroyed. Sporocidal activity by an office sterilizer is considered the most sensitive check of its efficiency.
To meet this need, the Department of Oral Diagnosis at the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry is pleased to offer dental offices a Sterilization Monitoring Service. We will be utilizing Cottrell, Ltd. of Englewood, Colorado for laboratory support.
On a regular basis (depending on whether you select weekly or monthly service) we will send pairs of spore strips to you. These spore strips are inoculated with Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus stearothermophilus, highly resistant but nonpathogenic organisms.
You run one spore strip through your sterilizer in a typical load of instruments. The other strip is used as a control. Both are returned to the lab. Your processed strip and the control strip will be incubated and read at the Cottrell, Ltd. Laboratory in Colorado. A report will be sent to you directly from Cottrell.
If no growth occurs on the processed spore strip, the report will so indicate. This report should be retained by your office as a permanent record. It is validation of the efficiency of your sterilizer.
If growth of organisms occurs, you will be contacted immediately (and confidentially) by telephone to discuss the possible reasons for failure to achieve sterilization. A second set of spore strips will be rushed to you (at no charge) to retest your sterilizer and ensure that any malfunction has been corrected.
How to Subscribe
Send in your application and check payable to University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Dentistry and you will receive your first spore strips with detailed instructions on their use. Additional spore strips will be sent on a regular basis. If you have any questions about this service, please call Dr. Susan L. Settle (405) 271-5988.