Sterile processing is one of the most critical departments within any healthcare facility. However, it often gets overlooked. Sterile processing departments should center their focus on three primary goals: ensuring correct instruments and supplies, being readily available when needed, and maintaining the highest level of patient safety. When these critical initiatives are undermined, it leads to increased costs, poor staff satisfaction, negative hospital reputation, and dangerous patient outcomes.
Eliminating Surgical Delays to Improve Efficiency
Surgical delays can negatively impact patient safety and operating room efficiency. Here are a few valuable ways to eliminate delays and allow your sterile processing departments to provide a safer surgical experience:
1. Ensure Adequate Education and Training
Each instrument and piece of equipment requires extensive steps to ensure proper sterilization. The current lack of education and training for healthcare staff is one of the most significant pain points sterile processing departments face. Many healthcare facilities are moving to require their team to get certified to ensure an increased level of knowledge, experience, and accountability in the operating room.
2. Provide Sterile and Functional Instruments and Supplies
Instruments or sets that are missing, damaged, or not readily available can significantly impact a patient’s safety in the operating room. As a result, a patient’s stay in the OR may get extended while the staff works to resolve the issue. When instruments aren’t properly sterilized, patients are at an increased risk of infection. Long term, this decreases the quality of patient care, which can negatively impact healthcare facilities’ reputations.
3. Accurately Manage Instrument Volume
Many hospitals still manage their inventory by tray volume instead of instrument volume, leading to inconsistencies. Instrument volume more accurately represents the work being performed because it accounts for every instrument instead of counting specific sets as just one item.
4. Introduce Specialization
The number one way to improve efficiency is to introduce sterile processing specialization. Historically, hospitals believed they couldn’t afford to have their staff specialized. However, many of them already practice a specialty through their arthroplasty services. Specialization is cost-efficient for hospitals because it’s paid for by the patients through the cost of their implants. The specialization model works well for complex and minimally invasive surgical procedures. Having an experienced team who can adequately process complex instruments ensures patient safety and improves operating room efficiency.
5. Promote a Well Rounded Team Dynamic
Teams aren’t going to get along all the time, but it’s important to communicate clear expectations, recognize employee productivity, and promote a professional and respectable environment as a leader. In healthcare, the primary goal is to provide the highest quality patient care.
Every team member offers unique value to organizational success, so delegating tasks based on everyone’s role will lead to better collaboration, more efficiency, and improved team success. It’s your responsibility to set the example that you want your team to follow. It’s essential to have a positive attitude and encourage team members to lend a helping hand when needed. In healthcare, the primary goal is to provide the highest quality patient care.
Sterile Processing at SpecialtyCare
At SpecialtyCare, we can help you improve your sterile processing department. We recognize the challenges you face and provide your hospital with adequate resources to continuously improve patient care and safety while efficiently managing costs and reducing waste.