The purchase of a podiatry autoclave or sterilizer can be a large practice expense, both initially and ongoing.
Thankfully the autoclaves used in podiatry are not as big as the ones on the left but the principals are surprisingly similar.
If you’re considering buying your first Podiatry autoclave it is important that you make a carefully considered choice and select the correct model, size and type for the practice you run.
The choice of which autoclave to use is quite straightforward if you stick to several important points and take into account issues such as, current guidelines, regulations, running costs and servicing.
Do I need an autoclave?
More than likely YES! If you are a practising Chiropodist, Podiatrist working within the UK then you should be using an autoclave which meets your governing bodies’ current guidelines.
The society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists states:
“The Society accepts the use of bench top autoclaves for the sterilization of podiatry instruments.”
If you are a foot health practitioner only doing very basic non invasive routine treatment then I still strongly recommend that you use an autoclave.
All of the main associations and governing bodies within the private foot care market advocate the use of autoclaves and many local authorities are now checking local practices to ensure they meet with sterilization and infection control guidelines.
At the end of December 2010 it became mandatory that HCPC (health care profession council) registered chiropodists and podiatrists use autoclaves that reach a temperature of 134 degrees for 3 minutes.
It is also “highly recommended” that the machine has a printer or data logger for record keeping.
It is not a legal requirement to have a printer or data logger attached to the autoclave however, it is advisable as this can assist with the tracking of instruments and fulfil your daily testing requirements.
For this the Society recommends that all members, when purchasing a new autoclave, select a model that has a data logger or printer attached.
What type of autoclave do I need for Podiatry?
For a private podiatry practice or domiciliary round, an autoclave or sterilizer is a machine used for the sterilization of reusable medical instruments (nipper files, burrs), devices ( drill hand pieces & parts) as well as clothing.
The types of autoclave used in private practice are typically square or round in design about the size of a microwave.
The instruments are loaded into the machine through a door in the front or in a basket loaded from the top.
Autoclaves can range in size, design and features with larger sterilizers capable of processing larger loads with a quicker cycle time.
What is the difference between steam & vacuum autoclaves?
Put simply, it’s the method used to process the type of load that you are going to sterilize.
If you are sterilizing normal unwrapped instruments which don’t have any hollow parts then a standard steam or ‘N’ type autoclave will suit your practice.
If you want or need to sterilize wrapped or pouched instrument or as with tattooists or dentists use hollow instruments, then you will need a vacuum or ‘B’ type autoclave.
How does a steam autoclave work?
To put it very simply a steam autoclave works by injecting water or steam into the chamber and heating it to the correct temperature and pressure for a predetermined length of time.
What does it cost to run an autoclave?
Apart from electricity costs for running the autoclave which can vary, r related costs include distilled water extra trays, printer paper if your machine is printer enabled.
TST strips are recommended for the Prestige Podiaclave or 2100 classic range, or if you don’t have a printer attached to your machine.
Minimum yearly service and calibration which can range from between £150-250 dependent on whether you take a service contract or pay on a one off basis.
Additional instrument trays and periodic changing of the main gasket or seal may also be required if this is not changed with your annual service, should also be considered.
Who are the biggest well known Autoclave brands in the UK?
Some of the better known manufacturers and suppliers of autoclaves within the UK include Eschmann, Prestige, Newmed, Excel Healthcare, MDS and Melag.
As with any specialist medical equipment problems can occur, this is why it is important that the company who manufacture or supply the autoclave can offer service and backup quickly and efficiently.
Additional services such as a loan autoclave service whilst your machine is serviced or repaired, can be a real benefit to a busy practice.
The level of care you take out is directly related to the level of use for your machine and the inconvenience factor of it breaking down for whatever reason.
Can you rent or spread the cost of an Autoclave?
Buying an autoclave can one of the biggest capital expenses for a small growing practice, whilst renting an autoclave for a short period as a backup or emergency measure may be convenient, it is not commonly offered by supplies companies.
If you have good credit history then leasing or HP (hire purchase) with finance is a very common way to spread the cost of capital equipment purchase.
There are some tax advantages for doing this, but It is worth taking specialist independent advice from your accountant or financial adviser, as to whether it is right for your business.
A lease package spread over three years with servicing included can mean total peace of mind over the term.
As there is great demand for second hand or used autoclaves it has been known for practitioners to be able to be able to sell their machine at the end of a lease and retain 50% of original purchase price.
Where can you learn more about Autoclaves?
If your interested in the principle of sterilization you can visit the wiki page about autoclaving.