2. What is a spore strip?
A spore strip is a small piece of filter paper measuring 1.0 inch long by 0.25 inch wide that is impregnated with millions of bacterial spores, typically of the genus Bacillus. The spore strip is normally sealed in a small blue glassine envelope (see image above).
3. What is a control strip and do I really
A control strip is a second strip that comes with your spore test that you don't put in your sterilizer. It is for quality assurance. The control strip verifies that the spores you put in your sterilizer were viable prior to sterilization, and also verifies that our test media at the laboratory supports growth. We always run controls at our laboratory whether your test includes one or not. The control helps ensure that the spores haven't been exposed to any environmental condition that could destroy them. For instance, don't store your spore strips next to a hot oven, in a moist environment, next to a microwave, etc. We highly recommend using control strips but don't require them. Customers who test on a weekly basis typically don't want a control strip because of costs. We can offer an "economy" test that does not include a control at a lower cost. Again, we run a control at our lab when we test your strip. Most regulatory agencies we've found don't require a control, but you should check with your regulatory agency to make sure. The CDC and ADA recommend the use of control strips.
4. Is a spore strip dangerous?
Although the Bacillus spores on a spore strip are typically considered non-pathogenic to humans, care should still be taken when handling them. Do not open or tear the blue glassine envelope or you will expose yourself to the spores and also invalidate the test. If you need to discard unused spore strips, sterilize them for 30 minutes in an autoclave at 121° C or two hours in a hot air oven at 160° C before throwing them away.
5. Why use spore strips when I use chemical
Chemical indicators are fine for indicating that an item has been through a sterilization cycle. However, they don’t indicate sterility, as spore strips do.
6. What is a spore?
Think of a spore as a bacterium that is enclosed inside a capsule. It is much more resistant to sterilization when in spore form. When exposed to certain conditions, the bacterium can break out of the capsule and become a non-spore type bacterium.
7. Why do I have to spore test my
In most states, it is now a Health Department requirement to monitor your sterilizers on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on your type of business. Generally, tattoo/piercing businesses monitor monthly. Dentists typically monitor weekly, or even daily. If it’s not already a requirement for your business, more than likely legislation is currently in the works to make it a requirement. Although this is an overhead for you, it's very important for the safety and health of your customers.
8. Why should I care if I spore strip test
By testing your sterilizers, you are showing your customers that you care about their health and safety. Most businesses want to proudly show off their certificate on the wall stating that they routinely monitor their sterilizers.
9. Don’t sterilizers always sterilize the
No. Sterilizers can have the parameters set wrong, can be overloaded, or can have the items to be sterilized wrapped incorrectly. In an autoclave, steam must come in contact with everything in the load. That is another reason why items must be very clean before being wrapped. Air pockets in the load can also prevent steam from reaching the product. We see about a 1-3% failure in spore tests on steam sterilizers.
10. What happens if I fail a spore strip
Don’t panic. Even the best sterilizers occasionally fail. You should check the maintenance and settings on your sterilizer and perform a retest immediately. If the retest is acceptable, you’re ok. If it fails, you should use a back up sterilizer. Also, do not use items on customers that were sterilized in a load that failed a test. We provide free retests. If your sterilizer fails a test, we will replace the spore strips you use for a retest at no cost to you (up to three retests).
11. Who receives a copy of our monthly
We only send a copy to you, our client. We currently are not required to send test information to any governmental agency and we respect your privacy. We also provide as many wall certificates as you request.
12. What do you do if we fail a test?
We immediately contact you by phone and explain the retest procedure. We also send you replacement spore strips for the ones you use on the retest (up to three retests).
13. Why aren’t my competitors across town
using spore strips?
They should be. You might want to show your customers your certificate or test reports so they will know that your company is concerned about their health and safety. It might help you get more business.
14. What are the legal issues if I choose to
not test my sterilizer?
First of all, if your county or state has legislation that requires it, you would be violating the law. But equally as important, if any of your customers contacts tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis, or other blood related disease, you don't want them taking you to court when you haven't been spore strip testing your sterilizer. If it is the law or not, you are protecting yourself and your customers by routine testing.
15. I bought my sterilizer used? Is it ok?
First you should ensure it meets it's parameters, 121 deg C for 15 minutes minimum. Even though the cycle might be set for 30 minutes, you MUST ensure the load sees 121 deg C for your specified time. Some autoclaves sterilizer at a hotter temperature for a shorter run time. Consult your operator manual for proper operation. Spore strip testing will validate if it's sterilizing or not. Typically, horizontal sterilizers work better than vertical types. Home pressure cookers do sterilize, but should not be used. They are too unreliable. Ensure you do your maintenance and that the unit is filled with water each time you run it. If you have an older unit for a backup, you should have it spore strip tested so you will know it works if you have to put it back in service. Most people only spore strip test their backups occasionally.
If you have other questions concerning sterilizers or spore testing, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will promptly return your email.