Sterile Processing Problems

In a comparison with other high-income countries, the United States spends the most on healthcare — roughly 18% of our GDP. A tidy 8% of those healthcare costs are administrative, which includes the expensive and time-consuming process of recruiting and training healthcare staff. Acquiring talented clinicians that fit prescribed roles is typically cumbersome, as managers must spend time vetting candidates — time that takes them away from patient care and other important tasks.

How High SPD Turnover Can Create Problems

Sterile processing plays a critical role in patient care, but for many hospitals, keeping the Sterile Processing Department (SPD) readily staffed with trained technicians is not necessarily easy. In fact, the demand for a greater level of expertise among SPD staff has risen due to an increase in surgical advancements. As equipment in the OR changes, sterile processing staff must constantly stay up-to-date on best practices for cleaning new and possibly more intricate tools. 

After surgery, instruments are contaminated with pathogens or organic matter and must be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized in order to be reused. Improper cleaning drives up the risk of Hospital-Associated Infections (HAIs) and Surgical Site Infections (SSIs), which are costly both in terms of patient health and hospital budgets. Sustainable reuse of medical devices is only possible with highly effective cleaning and sterilization. 

Not only that, but cleaning has to occur in a timely manner to avoid wasteful time delays in the OR. The sterile processing burden, whether from an increase in tools, an increase in the complexity of tools, or understaffing related to turnover, can multiply quickly. A hospital that does 10,000 surgeries a year will handle an estimated 1.5 million instruments. Without enough highly trained staff, quick cleaning methods like flash sterilization will be overused, possibly damaging tools and expensive equipment. In addition, cleaning methods can lose efficacy under certain conditions, promoting the threat of disease transmission.

What Can Hospitals Do to Keep Expert Staff in Their SPDs?

Sterile processing has a critically important function in the hospital ecosystem. Without the right number of highly trained staff in the SPD on a regular basis, hospitals are bound to experience consequences through expensive surgical delays or an increase in patient infection rates. With recruiting and training already a difficult task, how should hospitals respond to this need? 

At SpecialtyCare, our mission is to make surgery safer — and that includes helping hospitals keep trained staff in the SPD. We provide extensive training to our technicians and handle the entire recruiting and vetting process. So whether it means outsourcing sterile processing management to our team or simply receiving talented technicians, hospitals who work with us no longer have to battle the detrimental effects of high turnover. It’s our job to ensure that you have the people you need, when you need them, to improve patient outcomes. CONTACT OUR TEAM today to find out more about how we can help alleviate the sterile processing burden at your hospital. We would love to tell you more about our training programs and staff placement strategies.