The 3M recommended best practice is to run Bowie-Dick tests in pre-vacuum steam sterilizers at the following times:
- Once daily, at the same time every day, before first processed load;
- Three consecutive cycles when doing qualification testing, such as after any major repairs of the sterilizer.
If the Bowie-Dick test shows no problem, you can begin your daily sterilization routine by continuing to monitor the physical monitors on your sterilizers, which is the other type of Equipment Control Monitoring.
Before running a Bowie-Dick test, you should run your sterilizer on an empty cycle, even if it was never turned off. This reduces the chance for an invalid test. When running the test, the Bowie-Dick test pack should be the only item in the load. The test pack should be placed horizontally in the front, bottom section of the sterilizer rack, near the door and over the drain.
Physical monitors are the gauges on the sterilizer that record time, temperature and pressure so you can identify an equipment malfunction before it becomes a problem. Incorrect gauge readings, or readings that vary from set conditions, indicate a malfunction and you should consider the load non-sterile. The sterilizer should be taken out of service until you make adjustments or the problem is corrected.
For detailed information on equipment control procedures and product usage, please refer to the following documents (requires Adobe® Reader® or Adobe® Acrobat®):
The Day in the Life of a Dynamic-Air-Removal Steam Sterilizer, HealthVIE December 2010 (PDF, 404 KB)
Equipment Control Product Information