Which Competencies Should Your SPD Have?

It’s a primary goal for sterile processing departments to operate at peak efficiency while maintaining the highest level of patient safety. Technicians must possess adequate knowledge and understanding of the sterile processing environment while demonstrating a solid understanding of performing specific tasks, processes, and procedures. This sets the foundation for a well-rounded and experienced sterile processing department (SPD). 

Valued Competencies

Supervisors should develop and utilize a competency checklist during training procedures to ensure a successful sterile processing department. These competencies may vary based on your department and what type of equipment and instrumentation you use. Here are a few critical competencies to include: 

1. Decontamination 

Sterile processing technicians should be competent in sorting, disassembling, and reassembling instruments. Additionally, it is required to understand various cleaning methods, microbicidal processes, and equipment operation. 

2. Instrumentation 

SP professionals should be competent in instrumentation names and descriptions and each instrument’s inspection points. Additionally, they should know how to properly prepare and package tools before sterilization. 

3. Sterilization/High-Level Disinfection (HLD)

The sterilization process involves many critical steps. SP techs should be competent in various practices, including steam, low-temperature, ethylene oxide, and high-level disinfection processes. 

4. Worker Safety and Environmental Safety 

SP professionals should understand how to manage emergencies, environmental hazards, and other scenarios that compromise patient safety.  

Creating an Effective Competency Checklist

Some key factors that make an effective competency checklist include:

  • Thorough and written order of the process or workflow
  • Clear understanding and demonstration of each item’s use
  • Indication of whether tasks are carried out verbally or physically 
  • A comments section to provide feedback 

A technician or manager who is well-versed in the knowledge and expertise required to carry out a role in the sterile processing department should conduct this process. Once it’s completed, the competency should be placed in an employee file, where it is easily accessible at any time. 

On average, the checklists should be reviewed every six months to ensure that all equipment standards and procedures are up to date and to identify areas for improvement. If your SPD manager notices an increase in errors, you should refine your competency checklist and focus on areas that need the most attention. 

About SpecialtyCare

We’re committed to understanding your hospital and OR team’s needs to seamlessly and effectively provide the safest, highest quality outcome for the patient. We establish benchmarks for your department to track clear signs of progress towards higher quality services and compliance.