Safety in the processing of medical and hospital devices in healthcare organizations is an important measure of nosocomial infection control. This investigation aimed at establishing the period during which it is safe to use medical and hospital articles processed through sterilization by saturated steam under pressure using different types of packaging at a private hospital. The methodological procedure consisted of four phases: preparation of articles, evaluation of autoclave functioning, sterilization cycle and microbiological tests. Results showed bacterial growth on articles packed in surgical grade paper with and without film on the 21st day, in crepe paper on the 90th day and absence of growth when raw cotton packaging was used. In face of the results, a 21-day period was established for the use of articles after sterilization by saturated steam under pressure regardless of the type of packaging utilized, considering that storage conditions were also evaluated.