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October 17, 2012

The Dirty Truth About Hospitals

Soyring Consulting’s Adam Higman and Jerzy Kaczor comment on sterile processing and the dangers of infection in hospitals in the October issue of Men’s Health, available on newsstands now!

The newly featured article, The Dirty Truth About Hospitals, offers an inside view of the sterile processing activities of technicians and the dangers of contamination occurring in hospitals across the United States.

With instrument reprocessing representing an increasing challenge with educating staff on increasingly complex devices, in this offering of Off the Shelf we take a look at two main SPD factors and how to avoid the pitfalls of the complex sterile processing environment.

Processes and Procedures

Processes and Procedures

With medical instrumentation being more intricately designed and constructed of a larger variety of materials than ever before, the cleaning and sterilization processes are more difficult as well.  Even though technicians have detailed reprocessing  instructions, which can be challenging enough to read on their own,  they are often inconsistent and may be at odds with the standard procedures in your department.

To make sure instrumentation and equipment are properly cleaned and sterilized, healthcare facilities ought to regulary have their SPD processes reviewed by internal quality monitors or third parties .  Other ideas include:

  • Employee certification through the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc. (CBSPD) or the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM)
  • Staff training sessions on all new instruments with detailed manufacturer instructions for use (IFU)
  • Routine inspections for proper maintenance and storage of instruments and sterilization equipment
  • Replace worn or damaged items as necessary

Experts say the risk of infection from an improperly sterilized medical instrument is low, but what are the consequences of a dirty scope?  With increased attention from the media, your facility’s reputation could be jeopardized if you do not have a clear procedure for quality assurance in your department.


The Operating Room is only as good as its supporting staff and unless the SPD is performing its job functions successfully and by individuals educated and qualified for the tasks, the hospital, and also its patients, can have less than desirable outcomes.  The certification organizations like those mentioned above validate the skills of SPD technicians for executing the crucial tasks of cleaning, decontamination, and sterilization, but even with processes well-defined, keeping employees educated with an often high turnover rate can be difficult.
While employee turnover is inevitable, there are certain strategies a facility can use to help keep it low:

  • Income, Benefits, and Bonuses
    • Offer employees a reasonable, competitive wage with benefits
    • Base employee bonuses/raises on quality and merit to demonstrate the benefits of dedicated job performance
  • Job Descriptions
    • Make sure the right employees are doing the right tasks by establishing specific job descriptions to ensure that all work will be completed and all aspects are covered
  • Work Environment
    • Let technicians know of your expectations in the department
    • Improve employee self-confidence by acknowledging good performance
    • Create a pleasant, comfortable setting, with well-suited employees

In the end, striving toward improvement is a process that needs time and effort, and cannot be fixed overnight.  It requires time to educate technicians and managers to enhance their skills and become certified, and establishing quality assurance procedures will not happen overnight, however taking these steps can help improve patient care and departmental operations.

Read Adam and Jerzy’s full remarks in the October issue of Men’s Health, on newsstands now!

Soyring's Solution
Need assistance in your Sterile Processing Department?  Know you have issues, but not sure where to start?  Contact Us.

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