Why do I need to use both-an Autoclave tape and a sterilization Indicator?

It was during one of the trade shows Dr.Vikas curiously picked up a box of Class 6 emulating Indicator and asked us “Why will someone buy this? It almost cost Rs.10/strip versus an autoclave tape for Rs. 400/Roll”

My mind began to question “I think the doctor has a valid point, if given a choice why someone will spend 10X on the same thing?”

 By the time I could ponder more this, my director intertwined and answered “Autoclave tape is a process indicator whereas a Class 6 indicator is a sterilization Indicator” The whole explanation which followed bought so much clarity to everyone’s mind.

In a nutshell let me summarize the 3 major differences between an autoclave tape and a class 6 Indicator and why should I be using both of them.

Process Indicator Vs Sterilization Indicator

An autoclave tape is stuck outside the tray and it changes its color once the process of autoclave is complete. Therefore, it is a process Indicator. It marks the completion of the process.

A Class 6 emulating Indicator is a sterilization Indicator. It is placed inside each pack. It marks the completion of the sterilization process.

Autoclave tape is used by CSSD professionals to identify between processed and unprocessed trays and a class 6 indicator helps the surgeon and his team to be sure of the sterilization of the instruments

Outpack Vs Inpack monitoring

As already mentioned above, an autoclave tape is stuck outside the pack and the class 6 Indicator is placed in each and every pack.

The autoclave tape works as an outpack monitoring for the process of sterilization and the class 6 indicator is an in pack monitoring for sterilization

Class 1 indicator Vs Class 6 Indicator

The family of sterilization indicators are classified by ISO standards from Class 1 to Class 6 Indicators. From the Class 1 being the process indicators and the class 6 being the emulating indicator.

The autoclave tape is classified as a class 1 indicator which will change color as soon as the sterilization process is complete. It does not take into considerations of parameters like time, quality of steam or temperature. The class 6 indicator is an emulating indicator where the indicator emulated the sterilization cycle for the parameters of time steam and temperature.

So, if you have 2 sterilization cycles with different time and steam, you will use the same autoclave tape but different class 6 indicators.

To have the highest level of efficiency in the sterilization process, one must use an autoclave tape to identify between the processed and the unprocessed trays and should surely use the Class 6 indicator to achieve the highest level of sterility assurance.

Using only an autoclave tape will mean a very high compromise on sterility assurance.

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