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January Quality Audit: Preventative Maintenance, Air Quality, and Deep Clean

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Deep Clean, Preventative Maintenance, and Air Quality

The ARTC Digital Lab Playbook January Quality Audit focuses on documenting the IVF lab deep cleaning, preventative maintenance, and air quality. Most IVF labs appear to “shut down” for the week between Christmas and New Year. But we never really close! We are hard at work behind the scenes, ensuring that every instrument we use in the IVF lab and even the environment itself is strictly maintained to provide the best patient care.

Preventative Maintenance

IVF lab equipment must be properly installed, maintained, and calibrated to protect the quality of patient embryos. A great preventive maintenance routine includes cleaning, monitoring and repairs, and timely replacement of any component that shows signs of failure. A proactive and preventative approach allows the IVF Lab to predict potential problems, plan to move precious samples to properly functioning equipment, optimize maintenance schedules (e.g. equipment calibrations), and ensure that the lab can pivot when critical equipment is being repaired or replaced.

The future of IVF lab management includes assistance from Artificial Intelligence systems. In the realm of quality control and assurance, this is called predictive maintenance: knowing how to target future issues or failures before they happen, enabled by continuous monitoring of equipment, historical data, and development of predictive algorithms.

The IVF lab typically has numerous highly sophisticated instruments that need to be maintained, among them are; benchtop incubators, box incubators, warmers, heated surfaces for microscopes, isolettes, laminar flow hoods, pipettors, timers, thermometers, analytical balances, micromanipulators, inverted microscopes, water purifiers, and heating and ventilation systems with sophisticated filtration and pressure requirements.

The CAP generally requires preventative maintenance to be performed and documented.

COM.30550 Instrument/Equipment Performance VerificationThe performance of all instruments and equipment is verified prior to initial use, after major maintenance or service, and after relocation to ensure that they run according to expectations.
COM.30600 Maintenance/Function ChecksAppropriate maintenance and function checks are performed and records retained for all instruments (eg, analyzers) and equipment (eg, centrifuges) following a defined schedule, at least as frequent as specified by the manufacturer.
COM.30675 Instrument and Equipment RecordsInstrument and equipment maintenance, function check, performance verification, and service and repair records (or copies) are promptly available to, and usable by, the technical staff operating the equipment.
General PM CAP Recommendations

The CAP requires specific instrument preventative maintenance to be performed and documented.

COM.30680 Microscope MaintenanceMicroscopes are clean, adequate (eg, low, high dry and oil immersion lenses as appropriate for the intended use), optically aligned, and properly maintained with records of preventive maintenance at least annually.
COM.30700 Thermometric Standard DeviceThermometric standard devices must be recalibrated, re-certified, or replaced prior to the date of expiration of the guarantee of calibration or they are subject to requirements for non-certified thermometers.
COM.30820 Quantitative Pipette Accuracy and ReproducibilityPipettes used for quantitative dispensing (eg, adjustable volume, micropipettes, dilutors, and analytic instruments with integral automatic pipettors) are checked for accuracy and reproducibility initially and according to the manufacturer’s recommended interval, or at least annually if not specified, and the results are recorded.
COM.30860 Analytical Balance MaintenanceAnalytical balances are cleaned, serviced and checked at least annually by qualified service personnel.
CAP Instrument Related PM Recommendations

Air Quality and VOCs

New car smell, paint, dyer sheets, perfume, pine tree, and orange zest all have one thing in common; Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Not all VOCs smell good, not all smell bad, and some have no odor at all. VOCs are nasty compounds like benzene, isopropanol and pentane, as well as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide and heavy metals. People have organs systems to combat these environmental stressors, lungs, spleen, kidneys, liver, antioxidants that can mop up free radicals and prevent major damage to cells. However, eggs, sperm, and embryos have been removed from the body and don’t have their own antioxidant systems.

Construction materials like MDF, PVC flooring, paints and adhesives, are the major source of VOCs indoors, while the compressed gasses that run our incubators are the major source of benzene, isopropanol and pentane; city air and natural disasters such as wildfires and heat waves bring the noxious gases and heavy metals. Laboratory plasticware, which is made from a variety of plastics like polyethylene, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polypropylene, and acrylic, release VOCs. All of these are bad for embryo development, and air quality unrefutably has been shown to impact pregnancy outcomes. Particle monitors and VOC counters are now important instruments for quality control. New laminar flow hoods and extensive “inline” gas filtration units for incubators, as well as standalone or ceiling / roof mounted air filtration systems with HEPA and VOC filters, and airflows and airlocks that maintain positive pressure are necessary for modern clean room IVF lab design. Currently, it has been generally recommended that IVF laboratories maintain total VOC levels below 400 to 800 ppb.

Deep Clean

The IVF lab must be kept clean and sterilized, but without the use of harsh cleansers and soaps, or disinfectants like ethanol that might emit harmful VOCs. Good practice points are to leave a specific pair of shoes for lab use only, wear clean scrubs that are put on in a clean room, always wear PPE to catch hair shedding (heads and beards!).

GEN.42750 Computer Facility MaintenanceThe computer facility and equipment are clean, well-maintained and adequately ventilated with appropriate environmental control.
GEN.61500 Environment MaintenanceFloors, walls and ceilings are clean and well-maintained.
GEN.61600 Environment MaintenanceBench tops, cupboards, drawers and sinks are clean and well-maintained.
CAP Environmental Recommendations

The lab director or quality manager should start each month’s Quality Audit by answering “In Progress” to each question, then assign this survey to junior staff using the “assign” function. This will document both continuing education and quality assurance activities. As embryologists perform or learn about these activities, they can mark them as “complete”.

Dust, starting at top of hoods and lab shelves and moving to floor level – clean all microscopes, wipe all electronics, cords, incubator and hood tops and stands, stools and chairs. Legs of tables and hoods.Dust accumulation should be cleared quarterly and a deep dive undertaken once a year. Fine dust filters should be used. Low lint scrubs should be worn, and care should be taken to dispose Swifter cleaning cloths outside of the laboratory trash can.
Clean and sterilize all incubators and water traysEmbryoSafe, Oosafe, IVF Prime, H2O2. Record name and date of cleaning.
Wipe all hoods and incubatorsEmbryoSafe, Oosafe, IVF Prime, H2O2. Record name and date of cleaning.
Wipe outside of dewars and dewars roller standsEmbryoSafe, Oosafe, IVF Prime, H2O2. Record name and date of cleaning.
Check Generator maintenance recordsSchedule generator maintenance
Air Filters PM air handling system and replace HEPA and other filters. Life Aire
Replace VOC in line filters, Carbon filters on top of hoodsCoda® Xtra Inline® Filters Unique VOC removing filter technology should be replaced every 3-6 months.
Purified Water SystemSpecify types and purity of water used, PM must include CFU
Alarms, O2 alarmsSmart-Vue (thermofisher) CO2/temp monitor system for incubators, Oceasoft, TempGenius, Pharma Watch
PipettesSterilize and Calibrate
ThermometersSterilize and Calibrate, InnoCal Solutions, a division of Cole Parmer
Gas manifoldsPM
Incubators Pharma Watch, Smart-Vue (thermofisher) CO2/temp monitor system for incubators
IsolettesUse a double loop of tape or suction cup to remove glass
Microscopes Sterilize and Calibrate – PM, Kohler, Objectives, Lasers
Analytical BalancePM
Anti Vibration Tableshttps://www.newport.com/c/microscope-isolation-platforms
HoodsPM, Sterilize and Calibrate: ENV Services
VOC DetectorsGraywolf PPB and RAE Systems PPB, VOC and particle meters from CooperSurgical
Lab PensThe Maverick Embryologist’s list of favorites: Pilot G-2 Ultra Fine 0.38mm, 0.5mm, Pilot G2 0.7 mm , Small sharpie extra fine point, not ultra. Paper Mate ink joy gel 0.5, Tul Retractable Gel Pens 0.5mm Needle Point in blue, Zebra F-301 Ballpoint Stainless Steel Retractable Pen, Fine Point, 0.7mm, Black Ink, Pentel EnerGel RTX Retract, Pentel Energel Needle Tip 0.3.
Order Spare PartsCI-2 micropipette connector Narashige for connecting to a glass micropipette, Mouth pieces at the IVFStore
One Month Schedule of PM, Air quality, and Deep Clean related IVF Lab QA Activities

SeptemberFDA Audit
OctoberStaff Audit
NovemberPatient Satisfaction and Security
DecemberSpace and Supplies
JanuaryPMs, Air Quality, and Deep Clean
FebruaryBiennial P&P Updates, Review, and Sign Off
The ARTC IVF Lab Playbook!