Bill Bynum
President, Surgical Services
August 18, 2016

Excellence in sterile processing management (SPM) is fundamental to a well-run operating room. It supports on-time starts, surgeon satisfaction, and overall efficiency—all of which translate to financial results. But, most importantly, effective sterile processing management reduces the occurrence of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), which can significantly harm the patients entrusted to your care.

According to Infection Control Today, surgical site infections (SSIs) account for 31 percent of all healthcare-acquired infections. Of the 157,000 patients that are adversely affected each year, about 1,500 people die. In addition to the cost of lives and other less-than-optimal outcomes caused by SSIs, hospitals and health systems face between $10,443 and $25,546 in expenses for each occurrence. This totals more than $4 billion annually.

It’s no wonder that sterile processing management challenges often keep OR managers and hospital executives up at night. Constant staff turnover and a lack of effective, standardized processes and techniques threaten all aspects of the OR operation at a time when managers are regularly being asked to do more with less. An effective SPM program takes effort, to be sure, but the good news is that these challenges are not insurmountable. In fact, focusing on basic fundamentals can make a big difference.

Start with a thorough program assessment to get a clear sense of your strengths and deficiencies. Quality metrics that include frequency of case cart errors, instrument set errors, documentation errors, immediate use stream sterilization, and case start delays will give you a reliable picture of your environment and the basis for a roadmap to your improvement plan.

You can find useful resources from the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM), the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD), and the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN)—just three of many organizations dedicated to furthering education, certification, and improvement in SPM.

As a foundation of surgical activity, excellence in sterile processing management promotes excellence throughout the OR.  With some smart data analysis, clinical expertise, and a commitment to improvement, OR managers can drive change that will help everyone sleep a little better at night.

SpecialtyCare is a recognized leader in providing sterile processing management. Hospitals have turned to us to help them achieve superior results.  To learn more about our approach and how we can help you, visit our SPM page and then contact us with more questions at [email protected].