Nicky Steadman: Keep Your Autoclave Fighting Fit

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Nicky Steadman asks: “Are you caring for your autoclave?”

When asked what the most important equipment in your practice is, your autoclave is likely to be near the top of the list. After all, without a working autoclave infection control becomes a much bigger challenge, and this leaves the door open for breaches which could result in serious consequences.

Bearing this in mind, it’s essential that you keep your autoclave fighting fit – but what sort of cover and maintenance policy should you be looking for?

Keeping your autoclave compliant with current infection control regulations and protocols is a primary concern. Look for policies that provide annual validation in accordance to HTM01-05/ SDCEP guidance – these policies will always ensure total compliance to the current standards.

Maintenance matters

It goes without saying that regular maintenance can extend the lifetime of a piece of equipment. Regular maintenance offers a better chance for any flaws to be picked up before they become a significant problem. As a result, the chances of any small faults developing into a serious malfunction are reduced, preventing the need to replace the system and any serious interruptions to your provision of care.

Breakdown policies may completely exclude regular servicing, and this will mean that you will have to pay out twice to ensure that your system remains fully functional. A good way to avoid this is to choose cover that provides both maintenance and breakdown cover under one policy.

Once you’ve narrowed the field under this specification, you then need to see how regular the servicing will be and whether this is a viable choice for you. Ideally you want protection that offers annual cover, and one that includes any parts and labour so that you don’t get footed with an unexpected bill.

Keep parts original

With sophisticated equipment such as a state-of-the-art autoclave, it’s a good idea to look for service providers that are not only familiar with the system, but that also guarantee the use of only original parts.

If your autoclave is repaired using parts that are not from the original manufacturer, there’s no guarantee that these won’t impact the efficacy and longevity of the system. Furthermore, should your autoclave be under a warranty, the use of non-approved parts may void this, leaving you without another level of protection.

In light of this, it’s always a good idea to approach the original manufacturer of your equipment to see what breakdown/maintenance cover they provide. This guarantees that manufacturer-approved parts will be used for any repairs.

Any problems with your autoclave need to be resolved as swiftly as possible. There’s a financial impact of having to close your practice due to malfunctioning equipment, but it’s also important to consider the potential loss of trust and respect too. Patients that have to change their appointment times or suffer from serious delays may choose to take their business elsewhere.

Such a blow to your business can be difficult to recover from, especially if a negative review gets posted online. So, what should you look for when choosing cover in terms of speed? The answer is a nationwide service, which guarantees an engineer is based nearby to ensure problems get sorted sooner rather than later.

Find out if the company you choose offers any helplines or advice should a breakdown occur – this can help to minimise the amount of downtime your practice experiences if something goes wrong. Your autoclave is important, make sure you choose a breakdown/maintenance policy that helps ensure your system remains regularly maintained and protected in case of major malfunctions, extending the lifetime of your system and minimising any interruption to your services.

Author:

Nicky Steadman is the senior marketing manager with Eschmann UK. She says: “Pioneers in infection control, Eschmann has a unique Care&Cover policy for practices that want to keep their Little Sister autoclaves safely covered.

“This policy not only provides annual validation and an Annual Pressure Vessel Report of Examination Certificate for insurers, but also guarantees a swift, nationwide breakdown service with a team of engineers that only use original Eschmann parts.”