Common Sterilization Equipment Failures and Fixes: What to Do When Your Sterilizer Fails

Picture this: you’re a healthcare professional, and your sterilization equipment fails. The consequences could be disastrous, with patient safety at risk. In an era where sterilization procedures are more crucial than ever, understanding common sterilization equipment failures and fixes is vital. Dive into this comprehensive guide to learn the ins and outs of “common sterilization equipment failures and fixes” and how to troubleshoot, implement corrective actions, and ultimately prevent future failures.

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Effective Troubleshooting Techniques

Ensuring that sterilization settings are correct is necessary to troubleshoot possible equipment issues. Confirming these conditions should include temperature, pressure, and time assessment of the load being processed, in order for proper contact between the sterilizing agent and instruments. Careful cleaning and packaging before loading into a sterile unit can prevent overloading from occurring. Abiding by manufacturer directions as well as using suitable agents/materials will aid this process further.

Implementing Corrective Actions

Once a sterilization failure is identified, swift corrective measures must be implemented. Items affected may either need to be sent back to Central Service/Sterile Processing (CS/SP) or disposed of and an instrument tracking system can help manage these items for proper action taking. Documentation that includes any positive biological indicator results should also be maintained in order to evaluate if patients have been exposed and need notification about the potential risk of infection associated with the error. The list of potentially infected people compiled by this technique will ensure appropriate follow-up actions are done as well.


Finally, comprehending the usual equipment malfunctions and how to fix them is of great significance for securing patient safety as well as hindering contagions. Healthcare establishments can improve their sterilization practices by noticing shared root causes of failures, exercising effectual troubleshooting procedures, and carrying out corrective actions. Regular repairs, adhering to ideal methods and Manufacturer’s directions plus initiating protocols for biological monitoring along with recalls will help keep away from potential sterilization breakdowns or unnecessary costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common error made in sterilizing instruments?

Sterilizing instruments correctly is essential, but it can often be done incorrectly due to various factors such as inadequate cleaning or using the wrong equipment. Other mistakes that may arise include incorrect packing, exceeding sterilizer capacity limits, insufficient maintenance of relevant tools and devices used for sterilization processes as well as inaccurate temperature/pressure levels over predetermined lengths of time.

What are the failures of the sterilization process?

The sterilization process can be undermined by any missteps on the part of humans such as improper packaging or loading methods, incorrect temperature settings and malfunctioning equipment. In order to maintain a successful process, it is also vital that the cycle remains uninterrupted along with having quality steam present during these procedures.

What are the different types of sterilization monitoring?

To ensure safe and effective sterilization processes, three types of monitoring are employed – biological, mechanical and chemical.

How can I prevent sterilizer overloading?

When loading trays and distributing items, it is important to adhere to the instructions set forth by the manufacturer in order to avoid overload on a sterilizer. Ensure an even spread of medical instrumentation throughout for optimal performance.

What actions should be taken if patients may have been exposed to unsterilized items?

To ascertain the likelihood of infection, patients must be evaluated to establish whether sterilization was unsuccessful. An instrument tracking system can assist with compiling a list of those possibly affected individuals who should then be informed if necessary. The instrument itself is key in determining any potential risks associated with the failure of sterilization procedures.