Untapped Insights in Sterile Processing

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Expertise on the front line

Another name for a busy day in the Sterile Processing department is…Monday. Or Tuesday. Or pretty much any day that surgeries are scheduled in your facility. How does your team find time to pause and communicate? To share ideas for process improvement? Shift change huddles help, and suggestion boxes are good. A study suggests that facilities can equip their teams with continuous improvement training to unleash the power of front-line employees.

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“The goal of continuous improvement is 'operational excellence' - establishing a way of working which delivers improvements in care quality and safety by the everyday use of continuous improvement techniques. Continuous improvement is driven and owned by frontline staff…” according to an article from KPMG International.

A culture of openness

Changes both big and small can emerge from many sources. In a culture that is accepting of new ideas, employees feel free to share their ideas for change—maybe regarding tools, physical layout and workflow, or process efficiency—which are often most obvious to those immersed in the day-to-day activities. Sometimes the solutions present themselves when issues are discussed openly.

CSIBK3 – Brush RackThink about a tech working at a sink in Decontam, with dozens of instruments passing by, many with unique cleaning instructions. An endoscope arrives requiring a brush of specific diameter and length. If the brush is not where it is supposed to be or if that tech is not even sure where to find that brush, that can be a huge disruption. One simple solution is a Case Solutions® color-coded brush rack holding a set of Endoscopy instrument brushes (check out our limited-time offer!). Color-coded beads correlate with the brush length and diameter, making it easy to select the proper brush. Part ID numbers on the rack remind you which part to reorder. Also available for Micro Eye sets and General Surgery sets, this solution is  clear and simple.

Now consider the panicked call from the OR when a damaged instrument inadvertently gets processed in a set destined for a patient case. It’s so easy to do with so many instruments in play in the Prep & Pack area. Prevent that scenario by immediately tagging an instrument that needs repair or sharpening with a SteriTite® Identifier Seal.

The path to excellence

Unfortunately, not all solutions can be that straightforward. To learn more, check out KPMG International’s key findings from a global report examining how healthcare leaders can build and sustain a culture of continuous improvement and harness the knowledge and insights generated by front line staff. Rather than a manager identifying and solving all problems, front line staff are engaged to provide their insights to solve the problem and sustain the solution. Appropriate training and management buy-in are critical to success.