In healthcare, the sterile processing department performs a critical function that allows the facility to perform procedures and surgeries on patients. Learning more about sterile processing and its purpose, as well as who works in this department and its efficiency, is useful for those in healthcare management roles.
What Is Sterile Processing?
As mentioned, the sterile processing department serves as the hub for every healthcare facility that uses instruments and equipment to perform various procedures on patients. Hospitals and clinics rely heavily on the sterile processing department to clean, disinfect, and sterilize all the medical instrumentation used in surgical procedures. Any department or clinic that performs any type of procedure on a patient uses instruments that go through sterile processing for proper disinfection and sterilization. These may include the operating rooms, emergency department, radiology department, and labor and delivery department of a hospital, as well as any clinics that perform in-office procedures.
Who Works In Sterile Processing?
With a better understanding of the function of sterile processing, it’s helpful to know more about the people who work in this department of healthcare facilities. Sterile processing technicians work in this department. In order to work in this role, an individual must receive certain education about the proper cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization of surgical instruments. However, many states don’t require specific training or certification, which means that some of the sterile processing technicians working in these areas don’t follow the same procedures as others.
New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee are the only states that require sterile processing technicians to earn certifications. Outside of these states, sterile processing departments often encounter inconsistencies, which leads to inefficiencies and other issues.
Efficiency Level Of Sterile Processing
Sterile processing needs to be a highly functioning department within a healthcare facility, as medical instruments are constantly coming in for proper cleaning and sterilization. Since the department is further split into different areas that handle various tasks in the process, the efficiency can slow down between these sub-departments. Examples include decontamination, cleaning and prep, sterilization, disinfection, and sterile storage.
Those working in each area of the process must operate at a high level to avoid missing a step. Even a small error in the sterilization process could put a patient’s safety in jeopardy or cause critical instruments to go missing. In many facilities, efficiency in the sterile processing department is a challenge that healthcare leaders are constantly trying to address and resolve.
Crothall Healthcare, a Compass One Healthcare company, specializes in improving efficiency across various departments of healthcare facilities located across the nation. We can improve the experience for every stakeholder of a facility, starting with the patient and including their family and guests, the clinical staff, the community, and the associates who work to improve efficiency. One of our aims is to standardize processes throughout departments, which can greatly improve the efficiency of a sterile processing department and promote synergy between that department and the healthcare staff members who rely on them.
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