The Source | March 26, 2019

Advice from the Field

Understand the reason you do what you do; don't just do it because you were told. Never stop learning

Jack, TX

Sterile Processing Director

Working with data: J. Vincent Sanchez working on data management onsite.

Using Data in Sterile Processing

Author: J. Vincent Sanchez (CRCST), Client Manager

As a certified Sterile Processing Department technician working for a large hospital system in Texas, I specialized in orthopedic instrumentation and managed (eventually standardizing) their instrument tracking database.  From my experience routinely reviewing instrument tracking data with managerial staff, I know how overwhelming and confusing working with data can be. Which is why I wanted to share a few examples on how you can utilize your system’s data to strengthen your department.  

How Data Helps in SPD

Here’s a quick overview of why we need data in our departments: 

  • A justification for hiring new staff 
  • Budgeting for new surgical trays or increased quantities of trays already present in the department 
  • Prioritizing production for upcoming cases 
  • Ensuring compliance with applicable regulations and facility policies 
Scenario One: Excessive Waste

Problem: Trays that have excess, unused instrumentation are a source of wasted money. On average, in a tray, a single instrument costs between $0.34 and $0.47 to reprocess.

Data-driven solution: Reviewing data collected on instrument utilization inside specific trays can shed light on which items can be removed and peel-packed separately. 


Scenario Two: AAMI ST79

Problem: Trays that are understocked may require immediate use steam sterilization to keep up with case demand. This runs afoul of the guidelines in AAMI ST79.

Data-driven solution: Hospitals typically purchase instrument inventory and trays as capital. Using data collected by the facility’s tray tracking system allows SPD managers to justify to hospital administration the urgent need to purchase additional trays of one or more types. For example, using the overbooked inventory and quick-turnaround reports in our products can allow a manager to identify that the department’s current stock of Bookwalter Retractor Sets is insufficient for surgical case volume, and then justify the purchase of additional sets to eliminate the need for immediate use steam sterilization. 

Scenario Three: Overstocked ROI

Problem: Trays that are overstocked and sit unused represent a capital, budgeted purchase for which the facility is not receiving a return on its investment.  

Data-driven solution: An inherent feature of tray tracking systems is recording the movement of trays as they make their way through the reprocessing cycle. Taking this data and finding items that have not moved from storage for long periods of time allows SPD staff to identify sets, trays, and individual instruments that are not being used and repurpose them. For example, perhaps a facility has ten major basic sets, of which four routinely sit unused. Further, suppose that this same facility is in need of two additional minor basic sets and that minor and major basic sets have various instruments in common. Using data from the tray tracking system, the SPD staff can break down the unused major basic trays and build the additional minor basic sets, without any additional monetary outlays. 

Ask the Expert

Our Support team shared a few client questions they've received and we thought it would be helpful to share with the rest of the Censis community!  

Joint Commission

I know that your team provides onsite Joint Commission review, but could you share the standard approach surveyors are instructed to use when onsite?  - SPD Supervisor, KY

The following updated guidelines were published in Joint Commission Online in September 2018:

  • Facilities should develop and implement a process to keep instruments moist that is in accordance with the manufacturer’s IFU for the instruments and, if applicable, for related products used.
  • Items should be disassembled for terminal decontamination and inspection in accordance with the manufacturer’s IFU.
  • Instruments should be packaged for sterilization in compliance with the manufacturer’s IFU for the item, the packaging chosen, and the sterilizer used.
  • Items should be stored in a manner that meets state regulation (e.g., building code), protects them from contamination, and meets the manufacturer’s IFU.

A few key takeaways

  • Stay current with regulations and your state’s Department of Health Licensing. IFUs are a great example since certain state’s vary on if the IFUs must be accessible to all members in the department depending on role responsibilities (i.e. performing reprocessing or monitoring sterilizers). 
  • If your state does not have clear requirements or regulations, look to evidence-based guidelines or national standards. Examples of these are Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or AAMI.  You must be able to speak to the guidelines or standards your department is using to the JC (detailed documentation is not required, but recommended).
Software Implementation

We’re about to implement your software and was wondering when we should start installing our hardware?  - OR Supply Chain Tech, Cali

At least 30 days before the scheduled implementation will ensure all equipment is properly installed.

Artificial Nails

We’ve been running into the issue of hand hygiene, specifically fake nails. Do you have any information (regulations, etc.) we can use to train our team on best practices?  - CS Educator, NY

Based on CDC’s 2002 Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings, artificial fingernails should not be worn when in direct contact with patients at high risk (intensive-care units or operating rooms). While your team may not be in direct contact with patients, the instruments they handle are and should, therefore, artificial nails should not be worn.  The CDC does encourage policies dealing with wearing artificial nails be monitored (so bringing up the policy in team meetings or huddles is recommended).  Here are additional studies for you to call on relating to infection prevention and artificial nails:

The CtUC 2019 Experience  

Author: Derek A. Murray | Director of Professional Services

When I was asked to be part of the CtUC 2019 Experience Team my brain started swirling with ideas. As a team, we are tasked with one directive: Blow CtUC 2018 out of the water. But how exactly do you surpass inspirational speaker Inky Johnson and backstage at the Grand Ole Opry? Ah, ye of little faith.

Forward Thinking

While our workshops and breakout sessions focus on the here and now, we know keeping you informed about what’s coming next with our product roadmaps helps you proactively plan for your department’s growth. Once again, our fearless Chief Techie, Todd Thomas will unveil what we have coming – any guesses? Also, you won’t want to miss our Joint Commission Users Panel new to the schedule!  

The GiveBack

CtUC is more than learning and connecting, it’s also about giving back to something bigger than ourselves. Our philanthropic event this year raises funds and awareness for the St. Baldrick’s FoundationSt. Baldrick’s is a not-for-profit organization with the aim of raising funds to help find cures for children with cancer.  As a pre-event, we’ll be celebrating and raising funds through a company-wide heading shaving contest on March 29th (you can watch our brave team members get a clean shave on our Facebook).  

User Lead Sessions

The biggest feedback received from CtUC 2018 was that you wanted more user lead breakout sessions. Ask and you shall receive. This year we’re looking to host at least 10 user-taught sessions; from competency and sterilization audits to loaner management. Your peers will be sharing with you their insights, knowledge, and real-world experiences. 

3 Do’s and Don’ts of Lean in SPD

Hear from Deb Haley, (RN, CNOR, CSPDT, MBA) Director of Clinical Services on three major principles that can help your department improve processes and positively affect patient outcomes through Lean methodologies. 

See how Lean Consulting can impact your facility

As a proven method for process improvement across various industries, the main objective of Lean is instilling a culture of continuous improvement through a relentless focus on reducing waste at every level, on every process, every day. With service options ranging from on-site assessments to intense, hands-on Lean process redesign, Censis experts will help front-line employees learn problem-solving and process improvement skills that will put your facility on the path to a culture of continuous improvement. The Lean component of making ongoing progress, even after the consulting engagement has ended, is proven to provide sustainable results.