Well the journey begins through the swinging door of our bio room. This is where all sterilization for the entire shop occurs. This room is set up very simply – there is a clean side, and a dirty side. Both are clearly marked to avoid confusion and potential cross-contamination. Let’s start our tour on the far side of the room:
The dirty side (the scrubbing area):
This is where all of our contaminated instruments used in any procedure come to at the end of the day. This includes forceps, ring openers, ring closers, hemostats, surgical scissors, receiving tubes, tattoo tubes and grips. Needles are NEVER sterilized and used again. As soon as any one of us brings our contaminated tools into the bio room they are placed into our stainless steel containers, labeled by name. This is again to avoid any confusion. The tattoo artists soak their tubes in a simple green solution overnight to prevent any excess ink from drying on to the inside of the tube. Now everything is ready. Before any scrubbing begins, we must protect ourselves. We first check our written procedures , posted on the wall. This is when we put on our PPE’s , personal protective equipment. This includes gloves, plastic arm sleeves, plastic aprons, and another pair of gloves on top of the initial ones to secure the sleeves. All tools are scrubbed under water to minimize the risk of splatter. After scrubbing, the tools are then rinsed off with water, the tattoo tubes are disassembled, and the ultrasonic bath is prepared. This solution is prepared with Alconox mixed one part to a hundred with distilled water. The freshly scrubbed tools are placed into a basket in the tank of the ultrasonic , and the 1% Alconox solution is very carefully poured into the tank until the tools are submerged and the unit is filled to approximately one inch from the top. The cover is put on and then covered in plastic to prevent anything in the ultrasonic from becoming airborne and contaminating the entire room, which would be bad. What an ultrasonic does is essentially it vibrates, real fast, and the Alconox solution, when shaken creates bubbles. So what you get is a bunch of really tiny bubbles moving all around and over the tools. This removes any debris that may have been missed or was trapped in the cracks and crevices. Once the ultrasonic has finished its cycle, the water is drained, the tools are rinsed again and then laid onto a dental bib and allowed to dry. At this point the disassembled tattoo tubes are autoclaved in separate pieces and then, along with the other instruments, are placed into individual sterilization pouches that are dated and initialed by the person preparing them. Everything is now ready to be sterilized and is transported to:
The clean side (the sterilization area):
This side of the room is for the storage of clean items, (dental bibs, sterilization pouches, toothpicks, etc.) an ultrasonic for brand new jewelry, and most importantly, the autoclave. The autoclave is the single most important piece of equipment in the shop. It is cleaned and spore tested weekly by the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. What this means is that we run live spores (non-pathogenic) in with a normal cycle, and mail it back to them. They, in turn, test to make sure that ALL spores were killed, indicating that sterilization was reached. We have certificates on display along with results from said tests available on request.Now that everything is bagged and initialed it is ready to be sterilized. We carefully place all the tools into the autoclave. The autoclave sterilizes by a combination of heating up to an internal temperature of 270 degrees, pressurizing to 28 pounds per square inch, and steam saturation. After 45 minutes, the autoclave is ready to be vented to release the steam and pressure. The tools are sterile, but need to be dried before being handled. Once they are dry, with gloves on, they are removed from the autoclave and placed into a covered container to await transport to their respective rooms where they are taken out of the container with gloves and placed into a clean drawer for the next use.