Hospital waste autoclaves – also known as steam sterilizers – have become one of the most popular on-site solutions to treat medical waste on-site. But how exactly do they work? Is there a way to tell for sure which model is best suited for large medical facilities?
Read on and find out more about how these machines work in practice!
Hospital waste autoclaves – How do they work?
As stated at the beginning of this article, hospital waste autoclaves are also known as steam sterilizers – machines of varying sizes that resemble pressure cookers. They can be installed right at the site of medical facilities, enabling the on-site treatment of waste by using dry, saturated steam under pressure.
The temperature of this steam can range from 121 and 134 degrees Celsius, which is more than enough to take care of heat-resistant foreign materials that would otherwise survive the procedure. Essentially, this means that hospital waste treated via autoclaves will be completely sterile, and can be thrown away like regular municipal waste without worrying about potential infection risks.
Since the waste is already treated, there is no need for any special storage procedure, or the use of special transportation to destroy hazardous waste on-site.
Hospital waste autoclaves can treat anything that qualifies as red bag waste (such as medical items contaminated with blood or PPE), but some models may be more versatile than others. Make sure to always check the manufacturer’s instructions about autoclavable materials!
The advantages of using hospital waste autoclaves instead of on-site incinerators
On-site incinerators are often mentioned alongside hospital waste autoclaves, and while they do have their use in destroying pharmaceuticals and chemical waste, steam sterilizers come with many other benefits.
- Hospital waste autoclaves emit no harmful substances or bad odors.
- Their operation is much more cost-efficient and requires less energy. Not to mention on-site incinerators are also much more expensive to purchase in the first place, which partly explains why they are less widespread than steam sterilizers.
- The installation of hospital waste autoclaves takes much less time and can be integrated into a medical waste management system much more easily. This is mainly thanks to the fact that they take up much less space than incinerators.
- Hospital waste autoclaves – especially the more advanced models – operate automatically, and have a much shorter learning curve.
How to choose a hospital waste autoclave – Vacuum steam sterilizers
According to the standards set by the WHO, vacuum steam sterilizers are among the best on-site, non-incineration solutions to treat medical waste. They are also known as “class B” autoclaves and are regarded as the most advanced category on the market. They are essentially more versatile than other models, and being able to treat more types of materials is of the utmost importance to larger medical facilities.
Some manufacturers only provide class B steam sterilizers, which helps avoid confusion when looking at the differently sized models they offer. For example, Celitron’s hospital waste autoclaves use a powerful vacuum pump to suck all the air out of the steam sterilizer’s chamber.