What is the Bowie Dick Test

What is the Bowie Dick Test

A way to test the pressure and heat inside an autoclave or sterile processor. To make sure heat, and pressure are working properly to clean surgery tools. Finds and reduces air pockets which are bad.

What is an NCG?

  • Non Condensable Gas (Steris)
    • Bad for sterile instruments
      • Housing bacteria
    • air that hides inside the autoclave stopping the sterile gas process by staying between the gas and the surgical instruments.

NCG in an autoclave post Bowie Dick Test.


When do you do a Bowie Dick Test

  • after installing an autoclave
  • when it is moved
  • when it is repaired
  • Has to pass three times in a row after repairs or installs.


Daily Bowie-Dick tests only require one passing test.

  • AAMI suggests before the first load (Infection Control Today)


Bowie Dick test stages

  • Warm up
  • Add the test pack
    • Empty the chamber
    • place the test paper on top of the wire tray over the chamber drain
      • on the cart
      • or on the bottom tray
  • Run the cycle
    • 4 minutes
      • AAMI suggests not more than four minutes
        • voids the test with extra time on the test paper
  • Open test pack
    • judge the results of the test


Purpose of the Bowie Dick Test on Autoclaves

  • to make sure autoclaves have good pressure and heat
  • to meet the requirements of AAMI for using autoclaves and cleaning surgical instruments
  • to provide sterile surgical instruments
  • higher quality improves patient care during surgery


EN 13060 (European standards) Chamber is empty in a Bowie Dick Test. (Euronda)


The test sheet process

  • changes color by heat and pressure
    • The higher the pressure the lighter the test paper becomes.
  • must change the same color across the test paper
  • A fail is when only a spot on the test paper changes.
    • Then you follow the procedures to retest or service the autoclave


If the Bowie Dick Test fails

  • a second test can be performed
    • If it passes
      • A third test is performed
        • If it passes it can be used
    • If it fails it is put out of service
      • further tests to resolve the issues with pressure and heat.








Infection Control Today


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