Calling all Infection Preventionists: Your advocacy can supercharge your Sterile Processing Department. Articles on this topic often focus on audits and finding breakdowns in the system. While this is important, there are enormous benefits to a collaborative approach with a continuous improvement mindset, that will empower SPD employees to raise an early alarm if they identify areas of need.
You can support ongoing education
Sterile processing is a highly technical function. Touching on chemistry, physics, microbiology, and any number of scientific domains, the training of sterile processing technicians often begins on day one of employment. On-the-job-training, observation, and demonstration provide the first layer of HOW to perform the work.
Managers, educators, and infection preventionists can work together to assure continuing education, and possibly certification, to add the WHY, which equips staff to work effectively, think critically, and perform optimally. See the Case Academy page for more information on the free training and education we offer.
You can build relationships and trust
Some of the most passionate people in a healthcare facility work in the SPD. And one thing they need for success is free: acknowledgment. Recognition of individual and team contributions is a powerful tool to motivate and retain staff.
Be present in the Sterile Processing department. Learn the names of the staff and greet them in the hallways. Provide guidance when breakdowns occur, as they inevitably will. Creating face-to-face connection and positive relationships will foster a culture of trust and collaboration to help reduce SSIs and improve patient safety.
You can keep SPD top of mind
Check out these three resources for more inspiration to engage with your Sterile Processing team. (Sterile Processing professionals, feel free to take ideas from these sources or forward this information to your facility’s IP!)