The 3M recommended best practice is to use a chemical indicator tape or label on every pack or item.
In most cases, sterilizer operators will not inspect Chemical Indicators used inside sealed packs since they will be opened in the OR or another department. Exposure Control monitoring products are a way for sterilizer operators to know at a glance whether sealed packs have been exposed to the sterilization process.
Exposure Control monitors are Class 1 Process Indicators. They are used to indicate that the unit (i.e. packs, containers) has been directly exposed to the sterilization process and to distinguish between processed and unprocessed items. They undergo a color change when they’ve been exposed to the sterilant.
It assures the operator handling the processed items that the pack has been exposed to the sterilization process without the need to open the pack or check Load Control records. Exposure Control involves the use of Class 1 chemical indicators that are externally visible.
They can be on tapes or other devices used to seal packs, on load cards or on PCD labels. The most common Class 1 Process Indicator used for Exposure Control is indicator tape.
The nice thing about tape is its dual purpose. It’s used as an indicator and as a means to secure packages for sterilization. Indicator tapes come in a variety of formats. Some are made for disposable wraps and contain stronger adhesive. Others are made for reusable wraps. Their adhesive is strong enough to hold the wrap, but light enough to leave no adhesive residue on the wrap when it’s cleaned.
Externally visible chemical indicators for Exposure Control should be used with every package. For unwrapped trays or peel pouches, Pack Control monitoring may eliminate the need for exposure indicators since their result is externally visible. As with other chemical indicators, Exposure Control indicators are available for steam, EO, hydrogen peroxide gas plasma, ozone, and liquid peracetic acid.
For detailed information on exposure control procedures and product usage, please refer to the following:
Exposure Control Product Information