How Fairfield Medical Center Tackles Sterile Processing

Fairfield Medical Center’s Sterile Processing Department recently discussed the realm of sterile processing, everyday responsibilities, the impact that sterile processing has on patients, and achieving surgeon satisfaction. 

Scope of Focus 

External processing focuses on providing hospitals and other medical facilities with clean, sterilized instruments for a broad spectrum of procedures. The primary goal is to always provide instruments for an intentional purpose in a clean, sterile environment. The SPD team must ensure there is the highest level of patient safety. Two Fairfield Medical Center SPD team members are infection control, so they visually evaluate the process and look at logs to ensure everything is working properly to limit patient infections. 

Before any surgery, the SPD checks quality systems and controls to ensure that all instruments and equipment are adequately sterilized and ready to go. The SPD is also responsible for preparing the case to ensure that the surgeon has all of the correct instruments they need for each surgery. Once the surgery is completed, they take the dirty tray back to the decontamination room to be sterilized for the next procedure. Every facility’s sterile processing procedures are different but there are specific ways to store instruments, including watching temperatures and humidities. 

If a patient gets an infection, the SPD team evaluates various factors that indicate when an SPD is not functioning properly. This includes when a patient gets an infection post-op or what types of surgeries they’re seeing an increase in infections with. From there, they can evaluate the instruments being used, how they’re being processed, the people in the room, and what they’re doing to keep a clean, sterile environment. 

Training and Certifications 

All individuals working in an SPD must complete at least an eight-week program. Then, they can take a pre-certification exam to evaluate where they’re at. From there, it takes six more months until you can receive the certification. Not all hospitals require it, but Fairfield Medical Center requires all of their staff to be certified. This ensures that their SPD has extensive knowledge and training to perform necessary procedures and maintain the highest level of patient safety. 

Surgeon Satisfaction and Hospital Reputation

The level of SPD training also directly impacts the surgical team. If instruments aren’t assembled properly, you run the risk of injuring the patient or any member of the surgical team. This also leads to a delay in patient care, so it’s important for the SPD to put out instruments that are going to work properly. 

At Fairfield Medical Center, the sterile processing manager huddles with the OR team every day to ensure that they’re running a quality SPD. It’s critical that the surgical team has everything they need when they need it. Having this direct line of communication with the surgeon every day allows the SPD to rectify any issues that might arise. 

A quality SPD also impacts the hospital’s overall reputation. If your hospital is experiencing a higher level of infections within your community, that will reflect poorly on the SPD. That’s why it’s important that your SPD is always operating at peak performance to get the job done right. Ultimately, having a quality SPD is the foundation for setting your OR team up for success.  

Every three years, the Joint Commission conducts an SPD survey over four days to ensure they meet CMS standards. There are many regulations to follow, including the temperature and humidity of the room, and ensuring that all instruments are assembled and disassembled properly for cleaning and sterilization. Additionally, the SPD manager conducts a monthly audit to ensure they are up-to-par with the Joint Commission standards. 

Although infections can stem from other factors aside from the SPD depending on the patient’s case, Fairfield Medical Center strives to ensure that patient safety is always a top priority. Therefore, their team takes the necessary steps every day to maintain a quality SPD. 

Operating a Successful Sterile Processing Department

At Fairfield Medical Center, the Sterile Processing Manager reports to the Director of the OR. Depending on the size of the SPD, there might be a day shift supervisor and a night shift supervisor. Since the manager isn’t present during the entire shift, they have a subset of team leads. 

Every month, they perform quality control checks to report monthly statistics and open that data up to the rest of the team to share their input and make improvements where needed. Every quarter, the infection control team meets to showcase the data from central processing and other areas. They evaluate quality measures to make sure there are no ongoing issues. During this meeting, the Joint Commission also shares their quarterly results. Therefore, the SPD can ensure they’re meeting the standards. 

Sterile Processing Consulting at SpecialtyCare

SpecialtyCare is committed to patients through our sterile processing services. Our training programs provide extensive and thorough knowledge of the job that lies ahead. Our experienced clinicians follow all evidence-based practice guidelines for sterile processing and other related procedures.